This man’s heartbeat stabilized after the ambulance hit a pothole

Usually hitting a pothole is a major annoyance, if not the cause of a flat tire or other car damage. In fact, some people become so frustrated with potholes in their communities that they take it upon themselves to do something about the problem themselves.

When an ambulance near Omaha, Nebraska hit a pothole, however, it ended up saving a man’s life. Earlier this month, paramedics with Gretna Rescue were transporting a 59-year-old man to Lakeside Hospital for a racing heartbeat. During the 20-minute drive along I-80, the ambulance hit a giant pothole, and the impact returned his heartbeat to normal.

ambulance photo
Getty Images | Scott Olson

Although such an incident is relatively uncommon, it’s not unheard of.

“It’s rare, but it’s a well-described phenomenon,” Nebraska Medicine’s Dr. Andrew Goldsweig, who did not treat the man, told WOWT News 6. “One way to treat that is with an electrical shock. Classically, you’ll see it on television. The paddles, ‘clear’ and a big jolt. Turns out, you can do that with a pothole.”

Wow! Who knew?

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There are a number of reasons that your heart can start beating out of rhythm, and some are more serious than others. One condition is tachycardia, in which the heart starts to beat very quickly. This type of arrhythmia can lead to cardiac arrest if it causes extra heartbeats in the lower chambers of the heart. Arrhythmia can also occur when electrical signaling in the heart doesn’t work properly. For example, a rapidly circulating signal in the atrium can cause fast heartbeats.

One of the most dangerous conditions is ventricular fibrillation, which happens when the lower chambers of the heart start to quiver instead of pumping normally. This leads to the near cessation of blood flow.

“If it’s not shocked in a timely fashion — and we’re talking minutes — then the patient will die,” Dr. Gordon Tomaselli, professor of medicine and chief of cardiology at Johns Hopkins Medicine, told Everyday Health.

There’s no word on what condition caused the Nebraska man’s rapid heartbeat, but at one point, it was beating at a rate of 200 beats per minute.

Potholes are generally considered a nuisance. But we’re glad that in this particular case, a pothole turned out to be just what the doctor ordered!