The family of Eric Garner’s activist daughter say they are holding out hope she will recover from the major brain damage she suffered when her asthma triggered a heart attack nearly a week ago.
Erica Garner, 27, is currently in a coma on life support at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn after going into cardiac arrest on Saturday.
The mother-of-two was clinging to life on Thursday, according to family.
Her mother Esaw Snipes had told the New York Daily News earlier on Thursday that: ‘She’s not gone, she’s brain dead. Physically she is still with us.’
Later in the day, Snipes said they were still clinging to hope that she would recover.
‘We got the wrong information, she’s not gone,’ she said.
‘She’s still here with us. She just needs some time to heal, that’s it.’
The person running Garner’s official Twitter account tweeted Wednesday night that she had suffered major brain damage.
‘Cat scan shows Erica suffered major brain damage from a lack of oxygen while in cardiac arrest,’ they tweeted.
‘Please continue to pray hard for Erica and pray for her family and kids just as much.’
The Twitter account hit back at a condolence message from Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams after he prematurely said on Thursday that Garner had died.
‘As we sent prayers up… so sorry to hear the news. RIP @es_snipes. That family still needs us #Garner,’ Williams wrote in a tweet he has since deleted.
Her mother had earlier confirmed the heart attack was triggered by an asthma attack.
Garner, who has an eight-year-old daughter and a baby boy born in August, suffered her first heart attack shortly after the recent birth.
Doctors said at the time the pregnancy had taken a toll on her body and found that her heart was enlarged.
Garner, who named her newborn after her late father, has been an advocate for combating police brutality ever since his death in 2014.
Eric Garner, who was unarmed at the time, died after a white NYPD police officer put him in a chokehold in Staten Island.
The father-of-six’s death sparked widespread protests.
He had been accused of illegally selling cigarettes on a sidewalk when an officer put him in the chokehold from behind and brought him down with the help of other officers.
Garner complained repeatedly that he could not breathe.
The city medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide, with asthma and obesity as contributing factors.
WHY ASTHMA CAN CAUSE A HEART ATTACK
by Mia de Graaf, US Health Editor
Asthma may not be an obvious cause of a heart attack – it affects the respiratory system (airways), not the cardiovascular system (arteries).
But studies have shown that asthma can double the risk of a heart attack.
The reason for the link is unclear, but likely boils down to inflammation and swelling.
Asthma, an inflammatory disease of the lungs, causes the lining of air passages to swell, restricting the flow of oxygen through the body. It affects more than 25 million Americans, according to CDC data.
This in turn can affect blood flow.
A study by the Mayo Clinic in 2014 found that anyone who has sought asthma treatment in the last year, or who has suffered regular symptoms for a year, has double the risk of a heart attack.
The study eliminated people who also suffered COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), which is common in asthma sufferers and increases the risk of a heart attack by restricting oxygen flow.
‘People think the lungs and heart and very separate organs but actually they are very inter-related,’ Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist and immunologist with Allergy & Asthma Network, told Daily Mail Online.
‘A severe asthma attack can strain your heart, and the issue is two-fold.
‘First, it is the lack of ability to exhale oxygen. The person is unable to properly oxygenate their body. When we are breathing, we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Asthma sufferers are unable to exhale enough carbon dioxide and that can build up. The heart is then working harder than it usually would to compensate.
‘Second, the heart is unable to send blood to the brain because it doesn’t have enough oxygen.’
This was not Erica Garner’s first heart attack.
The young activist suffered her first shortly after giving birth; during her pregnancy she’d been diagnosed with an enlarged heart (peripartum cardiomyopathy).
Asthma is the most common life-threatening condition for pregnant women.
It can lead to high blood pressure, premature birth and death. It can also affect a baby’s development, birth weight, and can cause stillbirth.
Restricted oxygen flow is also the primary causes of peripartum cardiomyopathy, which is exacerbated by the baby’s need for oxygen and essential nutrients.
Dr Parikh agreed: ‘It’s a combination of factors; it’s never just one thing.’
Dr Parikh says she always warns patients that even those who are best medicated have double the risk of a heart attack, and 10 Americans a year die of asthma.
‘I want to drive the point home that you cannot take your asthma diagnosis lightly,’ Dr Parikh said. ‘You need to work with your doctor to find the right medication for you because it can be fatal.’