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My Heart Attack Story

My heart attack... it's time for some changes.

I am writing today a different type of story than I would usually file. 

On November 27, 2012, I had a heart attack. 

It was my second heart attack in my life and while neither incident was particularly pleasant, this one really scared me and my family.

My day started off normally, and I was preparing to come to work at about 1PM in the afternoon. I was getting dressed when the dreaded chest pains started.  Fortunately, my wife had taken the day off of work and was home at the time.  Having suffered a previous heart attack, I immediately knew what was happening to me and recognized the symptoms. 

Short of breath, severe chest pains, tingling and numb arms and a feeling of dread and like my life was ending. 

Immediately, I asked my wife to drive us to Woodwinds hospital and while, in retrospect, this was a mistake, at the time it seemed reasonable to me. Once there, the staff acted immediately to begin stopping the heart attack and stopping any further potential damage to my heart with a regimen of drugs, including nitro glyverin and heparin (blood thinner), in very significant doses. 

Also, they called a Health East ambulance to transport me to St. Joe's Hospital, who, in my opinion, is the only place to go for the best heart care in the world. 

At this point, the pain in my chest was out of control and my wife, or as I like to call her, the ROCK, was by my side. I started to say my goodbyes, and apologize for not taking better care of myself as I truly thought the end was near. 

I didn't think that I would be around to see my kids open their Christmas presents and be with my family over the holiday season, and I thought about all of the things that I enjoyed in life that I would miss. 

The ambulance arrived and the paramedics did a great job of getting me to St. Joe's in what had to be world record time (I think the medic driving the ambulance should try out for the Indy 500). Once I was at St. Joe's, I was taken immediately to the catheter lab where my cardiologist, Dr. Carmelo Panetta, put me at ease, told me I wasn't going to die, and that they were going to perform an angioplasty on me going through my radial artery. 

The procedure was a success, and I received two stents in my Lower Anterior Descending artery that cleared up the blockage instantly. The relief was immediate and significant.  I could breath again, my pain subsided and I knew that I would be able to be with my family for the holidays. 

As a bonus, I had 0% damage to my heart because of the excellent care I received from the Health East teams. I cannot thank them enough for every thing they did for me that day, but would like to especially thank John, my nurse from Woodwinds, and Jaime, my after surgery nurse at St. Joe's.  If not for them, I feel my outcome may have been different. 

In the weeks since my heart attack, I have been back to work and able to perform all of my duties with only minor adjustments. I have also been working my lifestyle choices which leave quite a bit to be desired.  One other area that is working against me is the fact that I am adopted and know nothing of my family history.  I have visited my cardiologist and have a stress test upcoming and likely will need one more blockage cleared in my Circumflex artery. 

This time, I will have it done with out the heart attack and in a more controlled environment. 

My hope is this, I am only 44 years old. I know that until about fours years ago, I always thought that heart attacks were an "old" person's problem and that I would never have one, regardless of my poor diet, my smoking habit, my ability to, at times over indulge in adult beverages and my total lack of knowledge of my family history. 

Guess what? I was wrong. I was totally wrong. I have never been so wrong in my life about anything, ever. 

My belief that modern medicine can fix almost any problem is very much a reality in my life. I have been given another chance to get this right. I hope that I make the changes I need to live a long life and be able to see my children grow up and have families of their own. 

My other sincere hope is that if you are reading this, and you need to make changes in your life that my story compels you to pursue those changes. 

Or, if you know someone that would get value out of this article, pass this along to them.  It is never to late to make the changes in your life. The human body is an amazing machine and modern medicine is an amazing thing. Coupled together, along with the power of prayer, they can become an unstoppable force and allow us to all live full lives.

Happy New Year to all of you, and I sincerely mean this, I am very lucky that I am able to say this to all of you!!!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

kris solheim December 28, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Wow! What an inspiring story ! Thanks for sharing. I know I plan to be making some lifestyle changes! God bless you!
Kris Janisch December 28, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Absolutely, thanks Kurt.
Janice Jorenby December 28, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Glad you are doing well, now, Kurt! I think it was smart to go to Woodwinds initially. Because they are closer, they could get treatment started sooner, get you stabilized, and then get you in an ambulance quickly to St. Joe's. I'd bet that the medicine they gave you there helped to prevent damage to your heart that may have happened had you been driven to St. Paul. Hope you have a quick recovery!
Jasna Burza December 29, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Dear Kurt - I am so happy you are well and thank you for sharing. Too many of us wake up only when something like this hits. I hope that your story inspires people to start making changes NOW and not when they are saying goodbyes in the hospital. I would love to hear a follow up post where you share what changes you made after your heart attack - think about helping others as they struggle to make the change. Thanks again - very inspiring. Jasna
Pat Turner January 01, 2013 at 03:20 AM
Kurt I am glad you are ok. But next time CALL 911. Woodbury paramedics would have taken you directly to St. Joe's in less time. They also would have you monitored with the ER at St Joe's and the team to care for you in the cath lab would have been called in as you were riding to the hospital. Dr Pannetta may have been waiting for you. You would have saved the time you spent at Woodwind waiting for the ambulance. Time is heart muscle. We have an excellent ambulance service in Woodbury when you are having chest pain and a heart attack use it. I am a retired employee of St Joe's Cardiac ICU and saw this all the time. Use the Woodbury Ambulance service and save your life and the loved one who is driving.
LeRoy Gohmann January 01, 2013 at 09:35 PM
LeRoy Gohmann Kurt I know only to well the feelings you went through. I had a heart attack on Sept. 3rd 2012 which was my second one. I also was treated by Doctor Pannetta and the St. Joe hospital staff who are excellant in the work they do. I also had two stints put in and am on the road to recovery. This was my second heart attack, the first eleven years ago so this time I was smart enough to have my rock (my wife) call the Woodbury Ambulance and was transported to St. Joes. I also would like to thank the excellant staff with the Woodbury Ambulance service and the staff at St. Joes. All I can say is it is up to you now to make the changes in your life to live a healther life style. I can only wiish the best for you and your family. Happy New year and may it be the best year for you.
Rebecca Lawrencw May 02, 2013 at 02:18 AM
Good for you Kurt! Glad all is well and you are taking care of yourself. Best of luck to you and yours.

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