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life experiences, myocardial infarction, out-of hospital cardiac arrest, qualitative research, survival



  1. Forslund, Ann-Sofie RN, MSc
  2. Zingmark, Karin PhD, RN
  3. Jansson, Jan-Hakan MD, PhD
  4. Lundblad, Dan MD, PhD
  5. Soderberg, Siv RNT, PhD


Background: The out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) survival rate has been poor and stable for a long time, but more recent studies describe its increase. However, there are few studies in which people narrate their experiences from surviving.


Objective: The aim of this study was to elucidate meanings of people's lived experiences of surviving an OHCA with validated myocardial infarction (MI) etiology, 1 month after the event.


Methods: A purposive sample of 2 women and 9 men was interviewed between February 2011 and May 2012. A phenomenological hermeneutical method was used for analysis, which involved 3 steps: naive reading and understanding, structural analysis, and comprehensive understanding.


Results: There were 2 themes, (1) returning to life and (2) revaluing life, and five subthemes, (1a) waking up and missing the whole picture, (1b) realizing it was not time to die, (2a) wondering why and seeking explanations, (2b) feeling ambiguous in relations, and (2c) wondering whether life will be the same. All were constructed from the analysis.


Conclusions: Surviving an OHCA with validated MI etiology meant waking up and realizing that one had experienced a cardiac arrest and had been resuscitated. These survivors had memory loss and a need to know what had happened during the time they were dead/unconscious. They searched for a reason why they experienced an MI and cardiac arrest and had gone from being "heart-healthy" to having a lifelong illness. They all had the experience of passing from life to death and back to life again. For the participants, these differences led to a revaluation of what is important in life.