NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Queens woman sprang to action to save her mom in the middle of a medical emergency.

Doctors say if she had waited five more minutes to get her the help she needed, she might not be with us today.

Maria Miller says she woke up around 4 a.m. on September 16th because her gut instinct told her to check in on her 68-year-old mother, Ines, who lives with her and suffers from epilepsy.

What she saw wasn’t related to that condition, but proved terrifying nonetheless.

“I went out and found her in distress,” Maria told CBS2’s John Dias.

Ines’ throat, tongue, and face were swollen enough where she couldn’t scream for help and had a hard time breathing.

Maria rushed her mom to Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Hospital, where doctors said her mother’s throat was closing due to an angioedema caused by a blood pressure medication she had been taking for three years, Ramipril.

“They said five more minutes and she would have been gone,” Maria said.

Medication for traditional allergic reactions didn’t work, so doctors had to perform a tracheotomy to open Ines’s airway and save her life. After the life-threatening reaction, they advised against her ever taking it again.

Medical professionals who spoke with CBS2 say the experience should serve as a warning to be aware of the side effects their medications may cause. They add even the smallest inflammation can be problematic.

“It blocks an enzyme and you can get a buildup of an inflammatory marker, which causes swelling, oftentimes in the lips and tongue which could block the airway,” Dr. Cindy Usher from Long Island Jewish Valley Stream said.

Ines is now on a different drug, and considers herself one of the lucky ones.

“Three things: God, my daughter, and doctors saved my life,” she said.


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