My Heart Attack Experience

Most of you know that I recently had a heart attack, so I thought I would share the details of  my “experience” with you.

I was eating a late lunch on Friday – a healthy mixed salad – when I suddenly experienced what I thought at first was heartburn. I took a Zantac and drank some water, but the pain got worse, and it spread across my chest, upper back and upper arms.

I realized I was probably having a heart attack, and took two baby aspirins, chewing the second one. I was hoping against hope that it would just go away. No dice. At this point I did two things (probably stupid); I changed into clean clothes, then I vacuumed the living room carpet.

I called my daughter, then called 911, then called my daughter back and talked to her until the ambulance arrived.

I unlocked the front door, opened it, and put the dog in his crate. I also filled the cat’s bowl with dry food. I left the front door unlocked, and my daughter spoke with my neighbor who came to feed Tucker and take him outside regularly until she got there. I also put his leash and food close to his crate.

A policeman was there, along with the ambulance, fairly quickly. The nice policeman escorted me to the ambulance, as I could walk okay.

The EMT’s asked me about my symptoms, when they began, whether I had ever experienced them before (no), took my blood pressure (through the roof; 260/160, I think it was) and an EKG. I was given four baby aspirin to chew, then a nitroglycerin tablet under my tongue. That reduced my pain and blood pressure significantly. They asked me which hospital I wanted, then called to transfer my medical information to the emergency room staff. We left for the hospital, William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, MI.

When we arrived at the hospital emergency room, we stopped briefly at the front desk. They asked me my name and birth date, verified my address (they had a very old account for me), slapped on a bracelet, and whisked me down the hall to an exam room.

At the exam room more questions were asked, more tests were done (a chest x-ray and an EKG, I think), they whipped off my clothing, and a doctor told me that I needed a heart catheterization. I said that I agreed, they found a cardiologist available in the hospital, I signed a release form, and they took me to the cath lab. All of this took less than a half hour.

The catheterization and angioplasty were done, and two stents were implanted in my right coronary artery. I was awake, but slightly sedated (not much), and the process was painless. The two incisions they made – one in my right arm (it didn’t work), then one in my groin – hurt later, and I have huge bruises now.

I was taken to a Recovery/waiting area for a brief time, and then was picked up by the Cardiac Care staff. Got to my CCU room, had two IV’s started, and was attached to the “machines” that constantly monitored my blood pressure, blood oxygen, EKG, respiration and heart rate. Blood pressure was first taken every five minutes, then at greater intervals – up to an hour. At first, my blood pressure was controlled by nitroglycerin via IV. My nurse and nursing assistant had two patients – me and another woman. The nurses work 12-hour shifts, so I had a different team starting at 7:00 am.

The next day they started experimenting with drugs for blood pressure and heart rate, as well as blood thinners. This, along with adjusting the nitro amount I was getting, went on for a number of hours, even up to Sunday morning (and no more nitro.)

I also received a 2D ECHO (TRANSTHORACIC) W DOPPLER AND CONTRAST – basically an ultrasound for the heart. The really good news (delivered to me by my cardiologist a couple of hours later) is that I have no heart muscle damage, and my heart is basically strong. He does seem to think that my left carotid artery needs further attention, but that we can talk about it at my follow-up exam later this month. My blood results were actually pretty good; most of it was within normal range.

I am impressed by and grateful for the treatment I received from the policeman and EMT’s, and all of the hospital staff. The only thing that was less than optimal was the food, although the method of delivery is better. You call the hospital kitchen and order what you want and you can even ask for a specific delivery time. Being in the CCU, they DO limit what you can order. The best meal that I had was breakfast on Sunday – a fake egg omelet with onions and mushrooms, with a side of hash browns. I also ordered tea – decaf is what I got!

The hospital was thorough, giving me full written instructions about follow-up appointments, medications, and what to expect before I was discharged. I also love the on-line chart feature.

I can’t wait to see the bills.

Only one of my medications is expensive (Brilinta), and I am going to ask to be transferred to Plavix when I see my cardiologist.

I am adjusting to my medications and have had some side effects. The hospital pharmacist happened to call me this morning, and she answered my questions and concerns. Some of the side effects from Brilinta are shortness of breath, headache, dizziness and nausea. The pharmacist said that these should subside over time, but that if they are extreme I should go to the emergency room or critical care. Add in diarrhea to complete the picture, which we think may be related to the lactose used to make pills. I have a strategy for that.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer.


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84 Responses to My Heart Attack Experience

  1. Lucille says:

    Quite the experience! Medically I have no questions. The only real query I have is: why vacuum the floor? LOL!

    Get plenty of rest…

    ….and dream of getting it here….

    Hotel Stella Maris, Villasimius, Italy

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Sharon says:

    I completely understand the activities with the carpet and the dog. Very thoughtful and practical. Some might say unnecessary but, as I say, I completely understand.

    I called a local friend on Saturday and we decided we needed to get together so she came over for a bit. She’s a completely laid-back, casual person…but about 10 minutes after I talked with her and I knew she was going to be here any minute, I grabbed the vacuum and did a good portion of the house. Completely unnecessary! But it made my mind easier. Oh, well. We do the best we can with the way we are.

    Thank you for sharing the good reassurance that you are doing well at this point and lots of good information in general.

    Liked by 8 people

  3. jeans2nd says:

    Are you getting enough rest? Are you allowed to take Tucker out yet?

    Why you? You eat so healthy and have daily exercise. Do heart problems run in your family?

    They run the stint up an artery? My goodness, I had visions of you having open-heart surgery. And they did it so fast!
    Are the drugs now a part of your life forever?

    Oh heck, ignore me, I am just so glad you are back with us and on the road back to health. Please, if you need anything, just let any of us know. I am not that far away, really.
    And thanks for all the details. Possessing no knowledge of heart probs, i would have been scared to death!
    Please get rest and heal quickly. Then we’ll all pile up and come to your house for that yearly hot-rod rally 😉

    Liked by 4 people

    • stella says:

      I have a long reel leash (26 feet) where I can let Tucker run in the backyard, while I sit on the back step inside. Not ideal but adequate.

      I do eat pretty well (home cooking, lots of fruits and vegetables), but I am really overweight. My cholesterol actually isn’t too bad, or my blood sugar, but they put me on Lipitor. My mother had a bad heart valve (I don’t), and she died at 91 of heart failure because she refused a valve replacement. Yes, they can do amazing things now with the heart via the arteries – even valve replacements sometimes. Thirty years ago, it would have been open heart surgery. Drugs will be necessary for the rest of my life to prevent clotting and high blood pressure.

      Yes, it was very scary. I had no idea how serious my condition was (not terribly), and the fact that I went to the hospital almost immediately meant that I avoided heart muscle damage. That is the most important thing to take away from this. If you think you are having a heart attack, call 911.

      Liked by 8 people

    • stella says:

      Forgot to mention – my untreated high blood pressure was probably a big contributing factor to the heart attack.

      Liked by 7 people

      • czarina33 says:

        We watch blood pressure closely, that’s how I noticed mine jumped over a couple of weeks from the 120’s to 130’s then 160’s. Got myself to a doctor that morning and got on lisinipril (very old BP med) about 4 years ago. I’ve been about 10# overweight, and recently worked to lose about 5 pounds which dropped my pressure into the one hundred teens, which was too low and left me weak, so I dropped my dose of lisinipril a few milligrams and seem to be better in the one twenties. Losing weight could make alot of diffrence in your pressure and heart health.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. czarina33 says:

    You did three really good things. I always praise my patients who called 911 or went to the hospital right away because they prevented more damage by getting quick diagnosis & care. Even if they were wrong, the worst they have to pay & treatment they must endure is lessened, over what it would have been if the full heart attack or stroke happened. And no one ever criticizes them for being cautious.

    Unlocking the door was so smart. I have heard this recommended, along with sitting in a chair near the door. Putting the dog in his crate was such a good idea, to protect him and so you wouldn’t have to be anxious about him.

    Cardiac diets are unfortunately dry (broiled chicken breast) and taste flat to people who use salt. My hospital provides Paul Prudhomme no-salt seasoning on the trays, which is some help with flavor. I often tell patients to have family bring a variety of no-salt seasonings to them when they in prolonged stays (inpatient rehab) and don’t like the offered packets; however, most want fried food with lots of fat and salt, and don’t want to change. You seen to try to eat healthy as a rule, so you may already skip added salt in cooking and at the table. Personally, I wil eat most anything if someone else cooks it, brings it to me and does the clean up afterwards….

    Liked by 8 people

  5. czarowniczy says:

    Czarina fails to mention that our EMT response time here is glacial. When she broke her knee and made the 911 call we were told it would be an undetermined amount of time before the ambulance responded but the volunteer FD with its EMT did arrive in about 20 minutes. We just used old Army engineering to gin up a way to get her from the floor to the car and drove to the ER. We’ve got a good 1st aid set up and are looking at getting a portable defib and O2 juuuuuust in case.

    It’s good you’re at where you’re at, and especially good there’s no muscle damage.

    There’s no reason to skip taste for a Food Nazi approved diet – may I suggest Paul Prudhomme’s cookbook ‘A Fork in the Road’? When the doctors told him he was about one more dish of etouffee away from a dirt nap he had an epiphany born from his inability to decide what would be worse, dieing or diet. He came up with a book full of great tasting recipes that reduce fat and sodium. Interesting how the local hospital dieticians living in the food capital of the Western Hemisphere offer the same diet as they do in Outer Slobovia.

    If your library doesn’t have it Amazon does (folks buy it, don’t use it) or we’ll send you our copy (we bought it and don’t use it). If you don’t want to cook you can stick out your lower lip, get all doe-eyed and hand the suitably bookmarked copy to someone who will. BTW, you don’t have to add the peppers, they’re not necessary they’re his cachet. Dog will love the leftovers too.

    Liked by 5 people

    • stella says:

      My daughter left this afternoon, so if anything gets cooked it will be me who is cooking it! Thanks for the book recommendation, and I agree about the local hospital dieticians. I have a hospital order for a diet consult and may use it, just to talk to someone about various points. For one thing, when I ordered an English muffin, they supplied it with margarine. That’s no better (probably worse) than butter.

      Liked by 5 people

  6. Ad rem says:

    Stella….you’ve done a stellar job in detailing what actually happens when one has a heart attack. For me, you’ve taken away a lot of the fearand mystery that comes with the unknown. Kudos for your honesty, bravery, and attention to detail. ♥️

    Liked by 8 people

    • stella says:

      Thanks, Puddy. I hope it helps someone. I sat here on my sofa last Friday indecisive about calling 911. I finally realized (as much as I hated it) that it was necessary for my future health. I couldn’t fix it myself.

      Liked by 7 people

      • czarowniczy says:

        Interesting thing was your mentioning the 81-grain aspirin. Czarina and I share a cardiologist and he’s saying the aspirin are not recommended for folks over a certain age any more and said we didn’t have to take them. We still buy the in the 3 packs.

        Liked by 4 people

        • stella says:

          I have had a heart attack, so it is taken to prevent clotting at the site of the stents, along with Brilinta. As the cardiologist put it: “Take your pills every day when you are supposed to, or you will die.”

          Liked by 5 people

          • czarowniczy says:

            Glad to see you got a doc that doesn’t mince words. From what I’m seeing the word is you can flip from Brilinta to Plavix but they recommend that you take the Brillinta for at least the 1st year.

            My old SF colonel has had a few heart attacks, once he got off active duty he did what many of us do and made up for years of neglected dining and mandatory PT. He’s got so many stents now that his arteries have to look like metalized racing fuel lines. He does take care of himself, to the degree he’s comfortable with, and he’s still kicking along. You can do better than he so you should be good to go.

            Liked by 3 people

          • auscitizenmom says:

            😯 He’s direct!

            Liked by 2 people

        • Ad rem says:

          Hmmm….my DH still takes one daily per recommendation.

          Liked by 2 people

          • czarowniczy says:

            So do we. Czarina sees too many stroke patients who are severely damaged and we do know that aspirin does thin blood soooooooo.

            There are dissenters who say that the aspirin thins blood and makes bleeding strokes worse but as ischemic strokes account for about 80% of strokes we play the odds.

            I love the way so many docs have different opinions. I find it best if I also dig thru all of the information available on my condition(s) as that docs has how many lives he’s responsible for in a year? I have mine so I find it best to up on it, he’s nowhere near as invested in my life as I am. 3 cheers for 81-grain aspirin.

            Liked by 5 people

    • auscitizenmom says:

      Yes, I appreciate that. I have often wondered if I would even bother to call 911. That is how much I dread ever going to the hospital. Your experience has made me rethink it.

      Liked by 6 people

  7. stella says:

    I especially also want to give kudos to my daughter, and neighbors.

    My daughter just left, but cleaned my kitchen and bathroom, cooked a few things, fed me, made sure I took my pills at the right time, watered my plants, changed the cat box, walked the dog, made my doctors’ appointments, found and retrieved my medication, bought me a blood pressure monitor, took out my trash and recycling and a number of other things I’m probably forgetting. She was also great at the hospital, talking to the nurses and doctors, asking questions and getting information for me.

    The neighbors on one side walked and fed the dog until my daughter arrived from Chicago. The neighbor on the other side offered to take out the trash and recycling, and trim my bushes (he’s great at landscaping.)

    Liked by 7 people

    • JTR says:

      It sounds like you have great neighbors! Here’s hoping You get well soon!
      I find “Mrs. Dash” gives a good taste to food without the salt. I really like the “Fiesta Lime” flavor a lot. I’ve cut out salt ever since DH had his aneurysm. It takes time, but when you get used to no salt, you really can’t abide by salty foods.
      We’re both praying for you, and I’m sure you will be just fine!
      Give Tucker a smooch for me!

      Liked by 6 people

    • czarowniczy says:

      Wow, kudos to all. I hear from my kids every now and then when they need to check and make sure I’m still alive and if they’re still in the will. Little do they know I left everything to Czarina and the cats.

      Liked by 4 people

  8. stella says:

    Forgot to mention that if you are extremely modest, this experience may be a shock. You are basically naked in front of nurses and doctors for your entire stay (“Let me take another look at your groin.”), although women are used to it during childbirth and visits to the OB/GYN.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. The Tundra PA says:

    Stella, as usual, I am late to the party so will just add my “dittos” to what everyone else has said. I am SO glad that you called 911, and that you didn’t wait 4-6 hours to do it. Also glad for no cardiac muscle damage and that it could be treated with catheterization. A giant groin bruise is still nothing compared to a chest cracking. Prayers offered for such a good outcome! And thank you for sharing this with us.

    Liked by 7 people

  10. czarowniczy says:

    An afternoon 40-mile trip to the dump (to get rid of stuff I won’t ever see again) and buy lottery tickets (to get rid of money I won’t ever see again).

    Liked by 2 people

  11. nyetneetot says:

    I hope you feel better soon

    Liked by 2 people

  12. jeans2nd says:

    Stella – Re: weight loss – I lost 200+ lbs of ugly fat when I divorced, but there were a few poundages left over. I found a diet that works quickly – eat less food, and do not eat after 6 p.m. It is hard, but with determination one can do it. One meal a day, spread out over all day.

    Fish, if you like fish, yams, beets, anything green leafy, and a small amount of brown rice, but most of all, nothing after 6, and less food. The hunger pangs subside quickly, and so will the excess poundages.
    And exercise as doc permits.

    Liked by 2 people

    • stella says:

      I lost 60 pounds on the Zone eating program over about a year. Relatively high percentage of low-fat protein balanced with good fat and complex carbohydrates. Three meals and 2 snacks, the idea being to control blood sugar. I was never hungry and the food was good!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. MaryfromMarin says:

    Well, I am definitely late to the party (the “relief, health information, and stella-cherishing” party, that is).

    Thanks be to God that you did so many right things, stella (as others have enumerated up-thread). Please continue to be level-headed, alert, and careful!!! You will be in my prayers for as thorough a recovery as possible!

    Liked by 3 people

    • stella says:

      Thank you Mary! I am slowly recovering and becoming accustomed to the new regimen.

      Liked by 1 person

      • MIKE says:

        Glad you are feeling better, stella. Life will be great again, very soon. I suffered a MI in August of ’06, after returning from a MX race and was feeling great, with my usual big appetite.After putting the bike and gear away, I Grilled a steak(heavily seasoned with S,P, and garlic) and sat down to watch some teevee, when I got some chest pains. We called 911 and the EMT’s arrived, but by that time I was feeling normal, BP and heart rate were normal, and they gave me the option of transport to the hospital, or not.
        I declined.
        Fast forward to the morning of Jan. 4, 2007.
        I woke up at 5:30 am, experiencing some strange gastric maladies, it felt as if I just needed to relieve myself, and all would be fine. Except for the tingling fingertips and the numbing feeling in my arms.
        I told my wife it felt like indigestion, I’ll be fine, I’m off to work.
        Thank God she said, “no, you’re not. I’m taking you to the ER.”
        Five cardiologists examined me, and none found anything out of the ordinary.
        They all wanted to get me out of the ER, except one nurse, who left to find a cardiologist still in the hospital, who was, for lack of knowing a better phrase, “old-school”. When I told him about the tingly fingertips, He called the nurses over and said, “get this man on a helo to Washington Adventist(cardiac/thoracic specialization) hospital, NOW!!
        They scheduled surgery for the next day, however, late in the evening, in bed and monitored, I almost flatlined. So, I immediately was taken into the OR, and the result was a sextuple by-pass initiation to the zipper club.
        Recovery sucked. Not so much the chest cavity, but my legs were sore for about a year, because they had to farm so many arteries from them!
        My first breakfast every day is coreg, losartin(lasiniprile made me cough, per Czars’ post), Lipitor, and an 81mg. I’m feeling so normal I’ve been backsliding on all the changes I made during recovery, unfortunately.
        You’ll do great, I know you are a lot smarter than the average Bear, and me!

        Liked by 4 people

  14. lovely says:

    Stella, thank you for sharing your experience, I’m so happy that you acted quickly. Everything sounds as if it has the best of all possible outcomes.

    The vacuuming your rug is a normal reaction for some people to crisis, it is a matter of right ordering chaos. Been there done that.

    Liked by 3 people

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