He started having some potential signs of a heart attack a few days before, including jaw pain and fatigue – but he ignored them. That day, Scott went to work in Montgomery as normal, but he became increasingly uncertain and concerned about his symptoms. With the encouragement of his wife and co-workers, Scott decided to go to the Emergency Room at Garnet Health Medical Center. By the time he arrived, he was actually feeling better – he says.
That feeling quickly dissipated as the triage staff immediately identified his need for emergency cardiac treatment. Within minutes there were 6-8 people tending to him. He knew it was serious.
“That’s when the reality started to set in. Hey, I’m in trouble here.” says Scott. “My fear was, you know, here I am alone and I have a wife and two children.”
Within 13 minutes from walking in the door at the Emergency Room, he was on a table in the Cath Lab. Scott was diagnosed with a 98% blockage in his right coronary artery. The staff at Garnet Health Medical Center performed a procedure to clear the blockage and also inserted a stent.
“The staff in the cath lab, really you could tell, they were a team. They were working together. Everybody had a job and it was flowing smooth. They were very calm, very helpful, very talkative – right through the whole process.” says Scott. “It was the best service you could ever imagine.”
Heart attacks have no age
After his cardiac procedure, Scott was taken to the 3rd floor Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to begin his recovery process. He recalls confiding in his nurse. “I am too young to have heart issues. I’m only 49.” It was at that point that the nurse explained that risks of heart attack are present in younger people.
“That really meant a lot. That 2:00 o’clock in the morning conversation. When you’re all alone. The shock is wearing off, the reality is setting in. For her to just come in and do that. That was – to me – above and beyond her job.”
According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), in the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. That’s about 735,000 heart attacks a year. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, with about 610,000 people who die of heart disease in the United States every year.
Though your risk for heart disease increases as you get older – heart attacks can happen to anyone, at any time. The major conditions and behavioral factors that contribute to your risk of heart disease are:
High blood pressure
Lifestyle choices, such as: physical inactivity and unhealthy diets
We encourage community members to talk to your Primary Care doctor or Cardiologist if you think you may be at risk for heart disease. We also encourage you to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack so that you can detect early and seek treatment as soon as possible.
Common heart attack signs and symptoms include:
Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back
Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain
Shortness of breath
Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness
If you suspect that you or a loved one is having a heart attack, please call 9-1-1 immediately.
“Scott stands out because he allowed us to become partners – really, in caring for him and for learning to maintain his health, and in deciding what changes he needed to make. That’s always the goal – is not to tell a patient what they need to do, but to become their partner,” says Mary Kate Revella, GHVHS Director of Cardiology Services.
Scott changed his lifestyle and lost 60 pounds over the preceding 6 months. His diabetes is in remission. Prior to the event he was generally inactive and now he walks 1-2 miles every day and maintains a healthy diet. Above all, he has become an ambassador to educate others on the warning signs of heart attack and the reality that it can happen to anyone. This is why Scott has decided to share his story with us and his community. Thank you, Scott, for taking the time and effort to do this!
Garnet Health Medical Center is here to be able to support any of your cardiac needs – from risk assessment and emergency services, to treatment and recovery.