Salvatore's Heart Attack Story
"It can happen to anyone," Sam says in retrospect about his cardiac experience. Sam’s blocked LAD, left anterior descending artery, took him, his family, and even doctors by surprise. Sam has always been aware of the family’s cardiovascular disease history and therefore, knew he had to be proactive to stay healthy. By exercising regularly and watching his diet, he thought he was taking the necessary precautions to avoid heart disease.
Sam started feeling flu like symptoms and not feeling well; so he checked his blood pressure, which was extremely high. While being examined at an emergency room close to home, he was found to be having a heart attack and was rushed to Carondelet St. Joseph’s Hospital.
"Once I got to St. Joe’s I felt pretty good at that point because I knew, I was in a good atmosphere, a good place." The experienced cath lab, catheterization laboratory, team was waiting for him. He can recall how quickly staff moved all while one of the nurses explained a stent would be inserted and how the procedure would be done – knowing that this team was dedicated to saving his life. Once in, they found there was 95% obstruction in his left artery. To Sam it felt like it all happened in a matter of minutes and everyone did a phenomenal job.
Cardiac rehabilitation was the next step for Sam and although he is not where he would like to be, he is back on the treadmill and lifting weights comfortably. The gradual increase in exercise and staff has given him the confidence to return to the gym.
Sam is closely monitoring his salt and sugar intake and knows taking prescribed medications is also important to one’s recovery. Making sure you know your numbers, such as blood pressure and cholesterol can make a difference in prevention. Even though Sam wouldn’t wish this to happen to anyone, “it was kind of a neat experience to see how professional all the teams reacted and performed.” He looks forward to riding in El Tour de Tucson once again. Sam’s advice to friends is to make sure you follow your doctor’s orders.