New Chula Vista Cardiac Lab Saves Police Cadet Hopeful's Life

New technology helps save the life of future San Diego Police cadet

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“This news was shocking.”

Amner Garcia-Hernandez couldn’t believe it. The City Heights man was a healthy 33-year-old preparing himself for the physical rigors of the next police academy when an EKG during a physical revealed his heart had an abnormality.

“I was concerned because I didn’t have any symptoms,” Garcia-Hernandez said.

Dr. Steven Carlson told NBC 7 that Garcia-Hernande had an arrhythmia, a problem with the heart that affects millions of Americans.

“Arrhythmias are essentially a hijacking of the heart’s electrical system,” said Carlson, Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center's director of electrophysiology.

Carlson said Garcia-Hernandez’s condition could have killed him if it wasn’t detected during the EKG. Carlson said it kills 300,000 people a year.

Garcia-Hernandez was taken to Sharp’s new state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization lab in Chula Vista, which opened this summer. The lab helps medical staff create a 3D map of a patient’s heart, identify the problems, and work toward a fix.

“I was awake," said Garcia-Hernandez with a smile. "I was seeing everything. It was cool.”

Carlson said he performed an ablation, the surgical removal of tissue, on Garcia-Hernandez’s heart that took care of his arrhythmia .

“His prognosis is excellent,” the doctor said.

“I’m grateful, to be honest, because I would never know I could die just for running or, pretty much, exercising,” said Garcia-Hernandez, who hopes to become a San Diego Police officer.

Garcia-Hernandez, who was born in Mexico but raised in San Diego, became a U.S. citizen in 2018 and recently graduated from Southwestern College.

“This is a way for me to give back to them and just help out,” Garcia-Hernandez said.

Garcia-Hernandez had to miss the last police academy so doctors could fix his arrythmia. He said he's already enrolled in the next academy, whichbegins in November.

“Every single day, I’m grateful, to be honest.”

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