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Ed CARDIAC-911: Read Ed's Story

“They taught me how to adjust my lifestyle and eating habits, which took away the worry of having another heart attack.”

Back from a devastating heart attack.

Nothing seemed amiss. Ed, 54, had finished his laps at the RWJ Fitness & Wellness Center pool when he decided to take a quick soak in the hot tub. The last thing he remembers is entering the water. He would regain consciousness six days later.

The Chesterfield resident was struck by a sudden severe heart attack that left him in cardiac arrest, face down in the hot tub. “For whatever reason, I guess it wasn’t my time,” he says.

Ed, who is fit from his three weekly swim sessions, says he felt no symptoms leading up to the blackout. Fortunately, Ed was not among the estimated 610,000 Americans who die annually from heart disease. He credits the RWJ team for his survival and recovery.

Restarting the Heart

Leanne Miccio, a nurse who was exercising in a nearby pool, spotted him floating. Ed says Miccio and her colleagues pulled him from the water. Trainer John Dohanic initiated CPR with the help of Wellness Center nurse Mariely Acevedo. Trainer Jeffrey Angelini administered the defibrillator. It took seven charges to restart Ed’s heart.

Ed was taken to the emergency department at RWJ Hamilton where he was stabilized. Within 50 minutes, cardiologist Andreas Wolf, MD, was clearing two blockages using the incisionless cardiac catheterization procedure. Dr. Wolf was confident in the prognosis for Ed’s heart, but the status of his brain was less certain.

Saving the Brain

“The one thing you are worried about that is a question you cannot answer at that point is whether the patient will recover, as far as brain function goes,” Dr. Wolf says. “At that point, it’s anybody’s guess.”

With his blood oxygen levels dangerously low, his heartbeat irregular, and the complete scope of the heart attack’s damage uncertain, Dr. Wolf and Ed’s critical care clinicians administered therapeutic hypothermia, which involves lowering the body’s core temperature below its normal 98.6 degrees to anywhere between 89.6 and 93.2. The cold slows the body’s demand for oxygen, increasing the likelihood of recovering brain function.

“I didn’t realize that I had missed a whole week of time,” recalls Ed.

And Back Again

Ed’s rehabilitation involved 36 cardiac rehab outpatient sessions. He learned about nutrition, blood pressure control, reducing strain on the body, all while recuperating strength.

“They taught me how to adjust my lifestyle and eating habits, which took away the worry of having another heart attack.” Ed says.

Within four months Ed was cleared to resume all physical activity. He doesn’t appear to have missed a step as he darts down the length of the Wellness Center’s pool.

Ed says he is grateful for the entire RWJ team, especially cardiac catheterization manger Kathy Forman and Mary Almario, an ICU nurse who sat with him during those first critical hours. Ed also credits the love of his wife, Kathy, family and friends to his survival and recovery.

Dr. Wolf couldn’t be happier with Ed’s outcome. “He’s certainly a rewarding case where you clearly have a positive impact on somebody’s life,” he says.

According to Ed, his story contains an important message:
“It’s important that you pay attention to your body, you know your blood pressure, your cholesterol, you’re careful of what you’re eating and that you have to exercise.”

Anatomy of Angioplasty

  1. The cardiologist inserts a needle into the femoral artery.
  2. A plastic tube is inserted through the needle and fed to the heart.
  3. An injection of contrast helps pinpoint blockages.
  4. A guide wire is inserted; then a balloon is run along the guide wire.
  5. The balloon is inflated, restoring blood flow.
  6. Stents are then used to support the once-obstructed area