Man using exercise machine.

Cardiac Rehab: a Patient’s Second Chance at Life

The pain would start in his sternum and rise up his throat, cause his arms to ache, and hands would go numb. Hanley was always active; at 71, he only slowed down when being active brought on pain that required him to take a breather. Often, this would happen after walking from the house to his truck, so he’d sit in the truck and wait until it went away. When it happened in the house, he’d sit in the recliner or go to the bedroom and lie on his back (because lying on his side made it worse). This would come and go for three months. Hanley said he was stubborn and denied that the symptoms were anything to worry about since they went away; he figured it was something with his esophagus.

Since his wife works full-time, she wasn’t around when he was having the episodes, but she caught on that he wasn’t the same after he would do anything that needed physical effort. Reluctantly, he went to the doctor last January and had some tests including an EKG (echocardiogram) to check for signs of heart disease – everything was normal. Hanley’s doctor wasn’t convinced and wanted him to have a Stress Test. He never made it to the scheduled test.

On the evening of February 25th, 2018, he was sitting in his recliner talking to his daughter on the phone when the pain came on like it never had. He remembers telling her he needed to go and handed the phone to his wife. Despite laying on his back, it didn’t go away this time and was getting worse. He told his wife that he needed her to take him to the ER; she immediately realized that it was serious. The pain became excruciating and he agreed that she should call an ambulance.

At Glacial Ridge Hospital, he had many tests including a CT Scan. When he was told he was being transferred by ambulance to St. Cloud Hospital, he knew that it was serious. He’d had a heart attack. Reading the CT Scan, doctors also found a mass on his liver which delayed heart surgery by a few days. When it was determined that the mass didn’t require surgery resulting in blood thinners, the doctors were comfortable moving forward. On February 28, Hanley underwent triple bypass surgery; two of his arteries were 95% blocked. On top of having the bypass surgery, he had AFib and a collapsed lung to deal with – extending his hospital stay. This entire experience changed him.

“The doctor told me afterward that I would have only lived another 24-36 hours if I had not gotten to a hospital.”

Hanley didn’t just survive, he is really living and can do more now than years ago. Learn how.

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