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Heart Patient Receives Life-Saving Stent Thanks to his Observant Internist

Monday, April 08, 2013

Heart Patient Receives Life-Saving Stent Thanks to his Observant Internist

“I am so grateful to Dr. Barbin and Shannon., said Carl Wilson. “I was having a heart attack. They saved my life.”

Know the Warning Signs

In early December 2011, Carl Wilson, 58, was at his home in Bourbon, Mo. when he started to feel ill,experiencing some pressure in his chest and shortness of breath. Carl has battled heart problems for the past several years. In fact, he’s received four separate stents to manage his heart condition. He also has a long family history of heart problems – his father and uncles all battled heart issues for years, and his parents both suffered from strokes.

Although, he was uncomfortable and somewhat concerned by these symptoms, Carl figured he would just wait for a few days when he would see his internist, Jennifer Barbin, MD, for a routine checkup at Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital. However, by the time he saw Dr. Barbin for his appointment, things seemed to be getting worse.

“When I first saw Carl, he didn’t complain about not feeling well,” said Dr. Barbin. “However, when we discussed his symptoms, he mentioned some chest pain, which concerned me. Given his heart history, I didn’t want to take any chances, so I immediately ordered a stress test at the hospital.”

After taking the test, Carl went home to wait for the test results. In an effort to distract himself, he started vacuuming. Then, the phone rang – it was Shannon, a nurse in Dr. Barbin’s office. “She told me to come to the emergency room immediately,” said Carl. “In fact, she said she would drive me to the ER to be sure I got there. That’s when I knew it was serious.”

It was very serious – the stress test indicated that one of Carl’s main arteries was clogged. He was on the brink of having a massive heart attack. “Given the severity of the blockage, time was of the essence. Carl couldn’t wait another day or even another hour. His case required immediate medical attention,” said Dr. Barbin.

“I was so scared,” said Carl. “I went to the ER and before I knew it, I was being transferred by ambulance to Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis.”

Stuart Higano, MD, an interventional cardiologist at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, performed a heart catheterization on Carl that evening, placing the much-needed stents in his heart. This helped alleviate the blockage in his main artery. Carl started feeling better almost immediately and was discharged home one day later. Dr. Higano ordered him to rest and refrain from too much activity.

As a result, Carl has remained vigilant about his heart health, meeting with Dr. Barbin to monitor his condition quarterly. “It’s important to speak up if you aren’t feeling well,” said Dr. Barbin. “You should never be afraid to contact your physician about any symptoms you’re experiencing. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

“I am doing much better and hope to be 100 percent soon,” said Carl. “I am so thankful for Dr. Barbin and Shannon. They saved my life. Of course, next time, I will be sure not to wait to seek help. I was very lucky this time around.”

According to the American Heart Association, the following symptoms are warning signs of a heart attack:

  • Chest discomfort including pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body including the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness.

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense; however, most start slowly with mild pain or discomfort. Oftentimes, people aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before seeking medical help. Every second counts. Learn the warning signs, and be sure to get checked out by a medical professional.