Tag Archives: heart attack symptoms

Father’s Heart Attack Is A Wake-up Call

In March, things turned upside down for Paul Shealy.

It was 4:30 a.m., and he was wide awake. Something about his heart just wasn’t right.

After a few regular beats, his heart felt like it paused–and then it began beating really hard, “like it was trying to start over,” Paul said. “I didn’t feel pain, and I wasn’t nervous, but I knew it was wrong.”

Paul Shealy, his wife Heather and their three children: Connor; 13; Braydon, 11; and Trisleigh, 7.

Paul walked around his house and got a drink of water, trying to work it out. After about 30 minutes, he woke up his wife and told her they should call an ambulance.

Paul was just 42 years old. He’s married to his high school sweetheart and they have three young children.

Paul had no family history of heart disease. But just a few months earlier, he had consulted with a doctor who urged him to quit using smokeless tobacco and to start taking medicine to control his high blood pressure. Paul took the medicine—at first.

“The side effects made me feel awful,” he said. “I’d go back to the doctor to have the medication adjusted, but after awhile I felt like I couldn’t go to the doctor again and say, ‘I need you to fix this medicine.’”

Paul did stop using smokeless tobacco, thinking that would be enough to improve his blood pressure.

After several check ups, Paul stopped seeing the doctor and stopped taking the medicine. He thought he had done enough to improve his blood pressure by quitting smokeless tobacco.

Paul isn’t alone. About one in three American adults has high blood pressure. Chronic high blood pressure – also called hypertension — can damage the heart and arteries. Nearly half of Americans with high blood pressure don’t have it under control.

Dr. Mitchell Jacocks

“Unfortunately, hypertension doesn’t cause symptoms, and sometimes the treatment can produce side effects and make patients question whether it’s worthwhile to take the medication they’re prescribed to control it,” said Mitchell W. Jacocks, MD, of Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice.

“Paul felt fine, and at his age, he probably felt like ‘nothing can happen to me.’ It’s a common misconception and unfortunately, can lead to dire consequences,” Dr. Jacocks said.

When Paul arrived at Lexington Medical Center’s Emergency department, clinicians confirmed his blood pressure was very high. Medication failed to bring his blood pressure under control, so clinicians admitted him to the hospital where tests confirmed that one of Paul’s arteries was seriously blocked. In the cardiac catheterization lab, doctors with
Lexington Cardiology inserted a stent in the artery to restore the normal flow of blood. Paul stayed in the hospital for five days.

Today, Paul takes a new blood pressure medicine and follows up with Dr. Jacocks regularly.

According to Dr. Jacocks, Paul is now a model patient. “There are few things that motivate a person like a cardiac event. Sometimes it’s the wakeup call people need to get them to take care of themselves,” said Dr. Jacocks.

Looking back, Paul recognizes the warning signs he ignored—when climbing a flight of stairs seemed to take his breath away, or when his wife noticed he was more tired, and how his breathing at night wasn’t right.

Dr. Jacocks said patients often ignore symptoms or put off treatment that could save their lives. “It’s important to listen to your loved ones,” he said. “They may notice something that you may not notice or be denying that could be signs of potential problems.”

“I completely learned my lesson,” Paul said. “It’s my responsibility, as a father, to be here. Now I take responsibility for my own health.”

Know the Symptoms of A Heart Attack

Radio Host’s Prompt Response Saves His Life

Brent Johnson’s name may be familiar. And you’ve likely heard his voice. The Columbia man co-hosts the morning radio show on B106.7 and calls plays during University of South Carolina football games on the Gamecock Radio Network.

But his best work in 2016 didn’t involve lively repartee on the morning airwaves or thrilling play-by-play Gamecock broadcasts. It was paying attention to his heart.

The award-winning radio personality tends to ignore things like occasional cold symptoms. “I’m a walk-it-off kind of guy,” he said. “But I knew something wasn’t right.”

It was Memorial Day, and Johnson came home after a work day that started at 5:00 a.m. A new kind of pain had his full attention.

“Not only was I having pain and tightness in my chest, I felt like someone was pushing on my chest from behind — the pain was coming through my back,” he said. “I had numbness in my shoulder that didn’t feel right to me.”

Brent told his wife. “She knew something was up when I said ‘I really feel like I have to go to the emergency room.’”

She took him to Lexington Medical Center immediately.

“As a broadcaster, I’m involved with a lot of public awareness campaigns, including heart month. I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t go to the hospital, with as many times as I’ve said over the years, ‘If you have heart pain, don’t take any chances.’”

At Lexington Medical Center, Brent immediately went to an exam room for an electrocardiogram to check for problems with electrical activity in the heart. But the report said his heart was normal and healthy.

“I was still in pain,” he said. “They didn’t let me go home.” Further testing, including a cardiac catheterization, revealed a clogged artery.

R. Taylor Williams, MD, FACC

“The staff made me feel confident, not panicked. They consulted with my other doctors on my medications. And when they say ‘You need a heart catheterization,’ they’ll tell you how fast you’ll be in and out. They really know what they’re doing.”

Cardiac catheterization involves threading a long, thin tube through the blood vessels to the heart. It can both diagnose and treat heart problems. Johnson’s procedure indicated he had suffered a heart attack. An artery at the back of the heart was blocked completely, explaining his mysterious back pain. The team used a stent — a tube-shaped device that opens the artery —to allow blood to circulate again.

“Brent had no major risk factors for coronary artery disease, yet he was appropriately concerned enough to go to the Emergency department when he developed symptoms that suggested a heart problem,” said R. Taylor Williams, MD, FACC, of Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice. Dr. Williams performed the stent procedure. “Brent deserves the credit for the good outcome.”

Brent was back at the microphone within a week. He takes medicine to prevent another blockage, and says he’s doing great.

“I have a family history of heart disease, but my heart has always been healthy. My vitals were fine — no high blood pressure — and I’ve always had a good stress test,” he said. “I didn’t have a reason to suspect heart problems.”

His intuition helped save his life.

To test your knowledge of heart attack symptoms, take a quiz at LexMed.com/Know