Brad Grunewald’s heart attack bore little resemblance to the dramatic, chestclutching scenes he had watched in movies. It wasn’t brought on by a catastrophic event, and it didn’t drop him to his knees. In fact, he didn’t even recognize the attack for what it was.
A fit man in his 40’s, Brad, who sells medical equipment, was meeting with a medical distributor in his Skippack office. The two had taken a lunch break when Brad experienced severe chest pain—an eight on a scale of 10. Even so, he attributed the pain to heart burn caused by a veggie hoagie. “At that point in time, there wasn’t any thought of a heart attack,” he said. “I stood up and got dizzy.”
Seeing Brad’s face drained of color, the young medical distributor feared that it was much more serious. He suspected Brad might be having a heart attack. He called the ambulance, and when asked where he wanted to go, Brad responded without hesitation: Grand View Hospital. En route, the ambulance staff was in constant communication with the Emergency Department. The Emergency Medicine physicians, in consultation with cardiologist J. Doyle Walton, MD, determined the most appropriate treatment for Brad was cardiac catheterization—a procedure that uses a small tube inserted through the patient’s thigh and pushed into the heart to open a closed artery.
In accordance with a process developed by Grand View staff to enable heart-attack patients to obtain potentially life-saving procedures faster, the Emergency Department prepared for Brad’s arrival as the cardiac catheterization staff readied the cath lab. Studies show the sooner the artery of a heart attack is opened, the less severe the damage to the heart. Brad received balloon angioplasty, which uses a catheter with a balloon on the tip to widen the artery passageway and allow blood to flow freely through the artery.
“I went from ambulance to balloon in just 34 minutes, as compared with the national average of 90 minutes,” Brad said. “During the catheterization, I was awake the entire time.” The minute the two-hour procedure was over, Brad felt great, as if he could go home. For his safety and due to the fact that he needed to keep his leg stable, he remained in the hospital for two nights, his first nights ever in a hospital.
Todd Alderfer, MD, Cardiologist at Alderfer/Travis Cardiology
Once discharged, Brad was determined to change the direction of his health. Although he quickly regained his strength, he took the month of February off from work to focus on his health. He began a cardiac rehabilitation program, where he completed an exercise and risk-factor modification program to strengthen his heart and reduce the chance of coronary artery disease.
According to Cardiac Rehabilitation Manager Laurel Landis, “Brad’s motivation to improve his own health made him a model patient. His work demands prevented regularly scheduled cardiac rehab appointments, but we were happy to work around his lifestyle.” In fact, Landis’ staff offered Brad suggestions on how he could get the exercise he needed while traveling.
To learn how to make healthier eating choices, Brad met with hospital nutritionists. His diet has changed drastically, with less red meat and more fish and turkey. Instead of largeportioned and often fat- and calorie-laden restaurant food, he packs his lunch four out of five days now. If he must eat out, he chooses salad.
Brad, who had gone snow tubing with his son the day before his attack, never suspected a heart problem. “My cholesterol was a little high and I would get tired every day, but I worked long hours and was on the road for two to four hours a day. I attributed the fatigue to my schedule.”
Brad does not consider the lifestyle changes he has made a sacrifice. He finds low-fat meals tasty and gets creative when it comes to eating right. Due to his increased exercise and loss of 23 pounds, he feels better and has more energy. “I knew friends’ fathers growing up who died in their 40’s,” Brad said. “I have a young son and want to be alive to watch him grow up and be there when he needs a father’s advice as an adult.”
source: Annual Report 2007