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