It started for him at 4:30 in the morning. He said he had a burning in his chest and in his throat. My husband was in obvious distress, but the real question was is it heart burn or a heart attack? Based on what he was describing, it sounded a little more like heartburn. Even though I used to be a cardiac cauterization technician, I did what every red blooded person with access to an internet does. I asked Google. They were not much help.
At 1:00 in the morning, almost 24 hours later, he walked to another room and came back saying he was sweating. OH NO…That was on the bad list. Not even 5 minutes later he told me his jaw and ear hurt. It was time for the hospital. Unfortunately at that point in time, it became a case of “Do I call an ambulance or not?” Having no insurance, we opted for no and I drove him the less than 10 minutes to the hospital. Green lights the entire way…God is good.
Of course we got to the hospital, they quickly did an EKG and moved him to the back and started IV’s. The Cardiac Physician came in and told us he was going for a cath. The reality at that point in time was overwhelming.
For those of you that do not know all of the medical jargon, the heart has small arteries that provide nutrient and oxygen rich blood to the heart muscle itself. When we are told to avoid all of the high fat and cholesterol foods, it is so that plaque does not build up within those tiny arteries. If plaque does block the blood flow, there is a definite heart attack. Another possibility, as in my husband’s case, a small piece of that plaque broke off and a blood clot formed blocking the artery. His right coronary artery had a 75% blockage after they blew apart the blood clot with medication. His other coronary arteries have 25-35% blockages in them. The doctor put in what is called a stent, which is a very tiny wire mesh formed into a circle into his artery.
After that was completed, he went to Acute Coronary Care Unit for 2 full days. He has to take more medications than he ever did in his life and rest somewhat for at least a week. The doctors want the stent to stay where they put it and do not want a rapid blood flow to dislodge it. The cost of the medications are extremely high, however it does appear that Aster Zeneca, a large pharmaceutical company will assist with the highest cost ones.
I knew immediately that the factors contributing to his heart attack were poor diet, lack of exercise, overweight, and stress. He lost his job in March, has not been able to find employment and he was extremely active at work and now he sits and looks for jobs, hours on end. Needless to say we both need to work on all of those areas of our lives.
As I read his book from the hospital it talks about the worst stress coming from negative life events such as a loss of a job and death of a loved one. (Both of which have occurred within the past 8 months.)
I decided to write about what happened with my husband to help warn others. Be careful of the diet, exercise, stress levels and see your doctor on a regular basis if possible. If you are in doubt as to if it is heartburn or a heart attack, watch very carefully. His symptoms were relieved, but they did not go away. I took it that since he was belching, it must have been gastric re-flux and the stomach troubles were due to the stress. I was told by numerous nurses that they would have doubted as well. His Cardiologist however was very quick to tell me that a good part of his heart muscle was damaged because it took us so long to come in. I believe those words will never leave me and I do not want someone else to ever be in this position! So do not wait, it is worth the cost to go to the emergency room.
#heartattack #stress #Coronary