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After a near brush with death, one officer hopes to help others

At 49, Officer Tommy Norman wouldn’t have predicted his heart attack. But for cops, that’s average

tommy norman heart attack

Marlisa Goldsmith, THV 11

By Suzie Ziegler

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Officer Tommy Norman almost died last week.

“I still haven’t processed it,” Norman told THV 11.

But it wasn’t a suspect’s gun or a vehicle crash that nearly ended his life. It was a heart attack.

Norman, 49, started feeling pain in his left arm and chest on Saturday. But when he woke up on Sunday, the Arkansas police officer went to work and finished his shift. It was only when he got home that he realized he needed to go to the hospital.

“I told my wife either call an ambulance now or take me to the emergency room,” Norman said. “The cardiologist came in a few hours later and told me I had suffered a major heart attack with up to 95% blockage in my heart.”

According to physician and police officer Dr. Jon Sheinberg, the average age to suffer a first heart attack is 65 for the typical American. But for cops, it’s 49 – the same age as Norman. What’s more, the chances of having a fatal heart attack between the ages of 55 and 59 is 1.9% for average citizens, but 56% for police officers. Plus, 60% of cops who are tested have coronary disease, sometimes as early as age 30, Sheinberg says.

Now, Norman is sharing his story to inspire others to take their health seriously and avoid similar scares.

“Listen to my story and hear it from me. Go get a physical, get a checkup, it’s something that would save your life,” he said. “I was a day away from not being here. And I have so much more to offer this world.”

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