Zack's Heart Attack
A fun, family day at the baseball park took a frightening turn when Zack James walked off the field and told his wife Alicia, “I don’t feel so good. I think I hurt my arms when I was up to bat.”
She noticed he was pale and sweating excessively, and then he heaved as if to vomit. Although her experience as a registered nurse helped her recognize the symptoms as a possible heart attack, it was a reality she struggled to accept.
“It makes no sense,” Alicia said in a blog article she wrote. “He had no cardiac history and had never had any chest pain or other cardiac symptoms.”
Someone called 9-1-1, and Zack was rushed to Huntsville Hospital Emergency Department where the cardiac team performed an emergent cardiac catheterization to clear a 100 percent blockage of his LAD (a major coronary artery known as the widow maker) and some less severe blockages on the front side of the heart.
After routine cardiac testing and an overnight stay in the ICU, Zack was discharged from the hospital with a physician order to start Cardiac Rehab. The 12-week rehab program includes a medically-supervised diet and exercise plan and helps patients develop and maintain healthier lifestyles.
Today, Zack is a proud graduate of Cardiac Rehab and according to Alicia, he is better than ever. They attribute his recovery to the many hands that helped him that day and to the fact that everyone reacted quickly to his symptoms.
“You don’t have to have chest pain or even intense pain to be having a heart attack,” said Zack. “My pain level was 4 out of 10. When in doubt, have it checked out. It could save your life.”
Signs of a heart attack
According to the American Heart Association, most heart attacks start slowly with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:
- Chest discomfort
Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body
Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
If you or someone you are with experiences any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1.
Are you at risk?
By simply answering a few questions, the risk assessment tool uses health information to predict a person’s chance of having a heart attack in the next 10 years.