TAMPA — At Tuesday night's hockey game, the Tampa Bay Lightning and AdventHealth recognized a local teen who survived after suffering cardiac arrest at school.
Samuel Mazzeo shared his story at the hockey game as part of the 7th Annual Heart Health Awareness Night at Amalie Arena.
"It's a good feeling to know I'm still here, still with my family and friends. It's a good feeling," said Samuel Mazzeo.
Mazzeo said on February 23, 2018, he was in P.E. class at Cypress Creek Middle High School in Pasco County. He collapsed suddenly. His mother said he was down for eight minutes, three minutes without a pulse.
"It was like a normal day of P.E. I was playing football with my friends. I didn't feel good so I sat down and from what they told me, I passed out. I was unresponsive," said Mazzeo.
School staff was quick to respond. Staff performed CPR and an AED saved his life.
Mazzeo was unaware he had a heart condition.
"The short term of it is ARVD. If you Google it, a long medical term will come up, but most doctors say ARVD," said Lona Mazzeo, Samuel's mother.
Dr. James Smith, a cardiologist with AdventHealth said Mazzeo's condition is rare.
"A rare disease that infects the right side of the heart and makes it much more prone to complicated rhythm disorders," said Dr. Smith.
"They treated him with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, a brilliant engineering device. Somebody did a fantastic thing with this. It has the power in it to shock a patient back to life, added Dr. Smith.
Mazzeo is celebrating a year since he nearly died. He hopes his story inspires others to be aware of their "heart health."
"It's good to get screened and have a regular check up," he said.
Mazzeo's condition is rare and there are not any warning signs except family history.
"This form is an unusual, less frequent form of heart disease. The form of heart disease we see all over the place is coronary heart disease, clogged up arteries from cholesterol. One out of two adults has this disease and will likely die from it," said Dr. Smith.
He urges everyone to be aware of the symptoms of heart disease.
"Most importantly, if you’re having symptoms, chest pains, shortness of breath, passing out spells, get it looked at, don’t stay home," said Dr. Smith.
Heart disease strikes someone in the U.S. about once every 42 seconds and kills more than 610,000 Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.