elderly couple holding hands

Heart Attack Averted

No one plans for a heart attack – yet paying attention to the early warning signs pays off. David, an active 86-year-old, saw Dr. Roderick Brown at Glenwood Medical Center for occasional chest pain. Dr. Brown gave him nitroglycerin to take as needed to alleviate chest pain and referred him for a cardiac stress test.

On February 24, David began the stress test at Glacial Ridge Health System with Dr. Joan Lunzer, and it wasn’t looking good. David said, “I didn’t do well, so they had me stop.” David developed symptoms a few minutes into his stress test; then, there were changes on his EKG (heart rhythm monitor).

“Dr. Lunzer immediately contacted St. Cloud Hospital’s cardiology team and scheduled me to be seen that day,” recalled David. He and his wife packed an overnight bag and drove to St. Cloud Hospital for his 1:30 p.m. appointment. Meanwhile, Glacial Ridge Hospital staff shared the results from David’s lab work and stress test with CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center, along with results of an echocardiogram done previously in Glenwood.

“When we arrived at St. Cloud Hospital, they were ready for me and very helpful. Cardiologist Dave Miranda, MD, ordered an angiogram and found that 95% of my coronary artery was blocked,” explained David. To avoid a heart attack, David needed a stent inserted into his artery to allow blood flow through his heart. Dr. Miranda explained to David that the blockage was in a complex location of arteries, and he would need a very specific technique to deliver the stent.

Cardiologist Daniel Tiede, MD, attempted to insert the stent the next day, and fortunately, it all went well. David said, “The nurses at St. Cloud were great. Before discharging me from the hospital, a cardiologist visited with me and answered all of our questions. He said I was lucky because the artery that was blocked is what they call the ‘widowmaker.’”

Upon recovery, David had a few weeks of cardiac rehab at Glacial Ridge Hospital. He’d been taking care of his health prior, so it didn’t take long to get stronger. “I like to exercise on the elliptical, walk with my wife, and golf – which is where I just came from,” said David. “I’ll be 87 soon and keep doing what I did before: eat healthy, watch my weight, and keep moving.”

David and his wife are grateful that this cardiac incident has a happy ending. They are thankful for the skilled doctors and care coordination between Glacial Ridge Hospital and St. Cloud Hospital. Because of that, he got life-saving care and a stent, avoiding a severe heart attack. “Patients definitely benefit from the tight-knit, team approach between CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center and Glacial Ridge,” said Dr. Tiede. “The partnership ensures efficiency and strong communication.”

It’ll be nearly six months since David received his stent. At his latest follow-up appointment at Glacial Ridge, David learned he is doing well and his heart function is normal.


Related: Hanley’s Second Chance at Life