Tag Archives: heart attack

The Light at the End of the Tunnel: Learning from Heart Disease

Parris McBride recalls the day she thought she was going to die.

“All I saw were the white lights of the cars ahead of us turning into one big light. And then it got darker – as if the lights were closing into a tunnel.”

Parris was in the passenger seat with her frantic sister and teenage daughter racing to Lexington Medical Center. She was cold, clammy, weak and nearly unconscious.

With severe chest pains and a terrible headache, the Batesburg mother was having a serious cardiac event. And she was only 41 years old. It was December 9, 2014.

Parrisi McBride

“I didn’t want to die. I have kids and I need to take care of them.”

Inside Lexington Medical Center, tests revealed severe blockages in her arteries. Parris needed open heart surgery to survive.

It was the pivotal moment for heart problems that began months before.

In October, Parris started having back, shoulder and neck pain – and, one night while working in the kitchen – another weird feeling.

“I thought, ‘My goodness, I’m having some bad indigestion.’” She chewed nearly a whole bottle of Tums® and it didn’t go away.

At first, she thought she was tired and stressed. Both of her parents had died recently, and she was a busy single mom of two daughters with a job as a salon manager.

But with a history of heart disease in her family – including a father having heart surgery in his ‘30s and a grandfather with a heart attack in his ‘50s, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a smoking habit, she went to Urgent Care. Tests revealed she had suffered a heart attack. She had two stents placed.

Soon, the symptoms came back.

“I couldn’t even walk up a flight of steps without not being able to breathe,” she said. “Even talking on the phone would make me out of breath.”

The chest pain continued – and got so bad that Parris was vomiting, too.

“It was like someone was stabbing a knife right between my heart and my esophagus,” she said. “It didn’t feel like an elephant on my chest, but it was the worst pain you could ever describe.”

It all led up to the day the symptoms became unbearable and her sister had to rush her to the hospital, where Parris learned that more arteries were blocked and she would need open heart surgery. Surgeons also needed to fix a blockage in her carotid artery.

“At first, I had a lot of fear and anxiety. I had some anger. But I also had hope that everything would go away and I’d be better.”

Stories of women such as Parris who have suffered from heart disease are a primary reason that Lexington Medical Center is focusing on educating women about their hearts in 2015.

Parris attended cardiac rehabilitation at Lexington Medical Center Lexington. She’s recovering from her bypass surgery and getting stronger every day.

For women like her, she has advice. “Be aware of what’s around you to be healthy. You can say every day that you’re going to quit smoking or eat right – but you have to commit to it.”

She also turns to her faith. Her late father was a pastor at Saxe Gotha Presbyterian Church in Lexington, where Parris grew up, graduating from Lexington High School.

“You ask yourself, ‘Why me, God? Why did you put this in my life?’ And for the first time in my life, I can finally say that I know why this experience has happened. It’s my calling to go around and make women more aware about heart health.”

She adds that her 8-year-old daughter asked her if what she had was contagious. She told her “No,” but that it can be hereditary. So, she’s working to get her family on a healthy path, too.

“I have two beautiful children. This is my third chance at life. I want to do it right this time.”

Just Say Know: Hands-Only CPR

If someone’s heart stopped beating, would you know what to do? It’s important for all community members to learn CPR. The American Heart Association now recommends hands-only CPR. That means chest compressions only, without mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

This video showcases how it’s done. It’s easier than you think. Please watch it and share it with your family and friends.

Hands-Only CPR Notes:
1. Send someone to call 911 or have someone call 911.
2. Kneel directly over the victim.
2. Put the heel of your hand over the center of the chest. Then, put your other hand on top of the first.
3. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest until help arrives.
4. The tempo should be 100 to 120 compressions per minute, which is the rhythm of the song “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees.

You can help save a life.

#CPRSavesLives
#JustSayKnow

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