Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Silent Killer - Heart Disease

Over the weekend, another former classmate of mine from the Class of "66" passed away from a heart attack. The sad news came on the heels of spending Sunday afternoon in the emergency room with a friend of mine who I hadn't seen or heard from in a couple of years. She called earlier in the day and was in the neighborhood, so she decided to drop by.

After about fifteen minutes of visiting, she started feeling faint and proceeded to develop chest and back pain, with labored breathing, sweating, and a tingling sensation in her extremities. While my wife who is a nurse took her blood pressure, I gave her two aspirins. Then the anxiety set in. That was enough for me - I called 911.

I live in a town with excellent emergency medical response services. Before I got off the phone with 911, I could hear the sirens roaring up my street. With suspected cases of heart attack, always call an ambulance rather than drive yourself or someone else to the hospital. An emergency medical team could be saving a life on the way to the hospital.

My friend was held overnight for observation to check her blood enzymes, the tell-tale sign of a heart attack. All of her lab work came back negative. All she could do was apologize for ruining my Sunday afternoon and not waiting to see what happened before we'd called the paramedics, etc. That's crazy talk! Wait for what?

There must be something about October. Eleven years ago, almost to the day, I took a ride to the same hospital on a Saturday night. Actually, my date for the evening brought me to Grossmont Hospital for a magical evening in the emergency room. Luckily, I got there within what doctors call "the golden hour." After a successful quadruple by-pass operation, I've been good to go for over ten years. Not everyone is fortunate enough to get a second chance at life.

My sincere sympathies go out to the family and friends of James Beebe, and to everyone who is grieving over the death of a loved one. Do your family a favor. If it has been over a year since your last physical, make a doctor's appointment. The life you save may be your own!