Witness to a Heart Attack: A rare look inside the ER

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Fox59 News was granted rare access into a Carmel emergency room when a heart attack patient rolled in.

It all started in Gas City. Charles Treon, 56, woke up to let his dogs out.  But, when he sat back down he knew something wasn’t right.

“I was scared,” said Treon. “Excruciating pain in my left hand like it was going completely numb.  My jaw started hurting real bad like a bunch of tooth aches and all of a sudden I started feeling nauseated, had a real bad sweat and so forth.”

Charles was having a heart attack.

“The pressure on my chest too, that’s what really started scaring me the most was that pressure,” said Treon.

Despite the pain, he didn’t call 911.  But his wife convinced him he had to go to the hospital.  She drove him to the emergency room at Marion General.

“Within minutes the doctor said I was having a heart attack,” Treon said.

Doctors stabilized him but decided he needed advanced care at the St. Vincent Heart Hospital in Carmel.  The only way to get him there in time was by air ambulance.

“Started hitting me hard because you know this could be the big one,” Treon said.  “I didn’t realize what I was really getting into.”

The St. Vincent Heart Hospital in Carmel was put on standby. Charles’ vitals and his EKG were now in the hands of cardiologist Dr. Kirk Parr as he prepped his team.

“The EKG confirms that he is having a heart attack,” Dr. Parr said.  “It’s all about confirmation, confirmation make sure we get reliable information.”

The team was told Charles was about 10 minutes out at the time.  The catheterization lab was ready to go and once Charles came through that door, Dr. Parr said he didn’t have much time.

“When people have a heart attack the heart muscle becomes damaged and dies,” said Dr. Parr.  “If we can get people from their home into the cath lab in 90-minutes or less their chances of living decades is excellent regardless of the age.”

Dr. Parr’s team went to work.  Charles was awake and alert but was still having a heart attack and Dr. Parr tried to get as much information as he can.

“My understanding is that your pain started about 6:45 is that correct?” asked Dr. Parr.

Charles said yes and that the pain was severe and sudden.  Then Charles was moved onto the operating table.

“We put our first plastic tube in the artery,” said Dr. Parr.  “We thread that up to the head and the heart and chest area and start taking pictures of the heart.  We take pictures of every artery, every blockage of the heart so we know what we’re dealing with.”

Dr. Parr told Charles he was just about done and that everything was going great.  Then he pointed to a computer screen that showed Charles had an artery that was 95 percent blocked.

Once he identified the blockage he guided a wire with stent into position, inflated a balloon and opened the blocked artery.  Dr. Parr identified and opened the blocked artery within 15 minutes.

“The sooner we get the blockage identified, the sooner we can get it open, the more heart muscle is saved,” Dr. Parr said.  “My expectation is in three to four weeks he’ll probably have a normal heart muscle again.”

Charles said he was thankful for getting a second chance.

“I’m very fortunate to be here really,” said Charles.

Turns out, both Charles and his wife are EMT’s and he admits he didn’t react to the symptoms he knows better than almost anyone else fast enough. Now, he says, he will live by a new motto.

“Practice what you preach,” Charles said.  “It’s God’s grace that I’ve come through it.”

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