Fayetteville, Ga. (January 24, 2014) – When Matt Easley, Fayetteville resident and father of two, woke up in the middle of the night with a pounding headache that proved impossible to shake, he had no idea his symptoms were indicative – albeit atypical – of one of the deadliest forms of a heart attack: the widow maker.
Three days after the headache presented, Easley drove himself to Piedmont Fayette Hospital’s emergency department in search of answers. What doctors found wasn’t a problem with his head, but his heart.
“A ‘widow maker’ heart attack is a severe form of cardiac failure in which the main artery becomes abruptly and fully blocked, often leading to sudden death,” said Sanjay Chamakura, M.D., Easley’s cardiologist at Piedmont Fayette. “If Matt had gone to bed instead of coming to Piedmont Fayette, he likely would have died in his sleep.”
Time is muscle when dealing with matters of the heart. Because Easley received medical treatment quickly, he survived a widow maker heart attack and feels it is his responsibility to share his story in an effort to raise awareness in the community.
“To say I received outstanding treatment would be an understatement,” said Easley. “If the nurses said they would be back in 15 minutes, they would be back in 14 – that’s the kind of care we received the entire time. It gives me great confidence knowing that there is a place in our community that is able to handle that level of emergency.”
When it comes to heart attacks, the less time it takes to get the patient into the catheterization lab, the less tissue damage there is - resulting in shorter hospital stays and better outcomes for the patient. For accredited Chest Pain Centers like Piedmont Fayette, the blockage causing the patient's heart attack must be opened in less than 90 minutes.
“If you experience symptoms of a heart attack, it is important you dial 9-1-1 immediately,” said Dr. Chamakura. “Don’t wait and do not attempt to drive yourself to the hospital. Those valuable minutes en route to the hospital can be lifesaving. Today, many ambulances are equipped to transmit EKGs wirelessly – allowing us to begin intervention at the hospital immediately upon arrival.”
Someone suffers a heart attack every 34 seconds, according to the American Heart Association. Warning signs include chest discomfort, shortness of breath, discomfort or pain in one or both arms, neck, back, stomach or jaw. Women should also look out for a feeling of pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest.
For more information or to assess your risk for heart disease with a simple quiz, visit piedmontheart.org.