‘I knew the early signs of a heart attack, but ignored them. Time nearly ran out for me.’
Ken Roper was working on his heart health. He was running, watching his diet, minimizing sugar and eliminating soda. “I even mastered how to grill salmon,” he smiles. Yet, Roper, 52, had a family history of heart disease and his stress level was high. “I lost my mother in August and had a lot to deal with. I had also been taking a lot of extra shifts at work. I was just never winding down,” he admits.
But after a particularly stressful morning in early November, Roper wasn’t feeling well and went home early. “In the past, when I felt like this, I’d go for a good hard run,” he says. So Roper headed out for a routine three-mile run. Halfway through, he was forced to walk and by the time he reached his Valparaiso home, he stumbled. “It felt like I had a Mini Cooper on my chest,” he says.
Luckily, a neighbor discovered Roper in the street and came to his aid, calling 911. When the ambulance arrived, paramedics immediately hooked Roper up to the 12-lead monitor, which relayed critical information to Porter’s ER so the cardiac team could prepare while Roper was en route. Upon arriving, Roper was immediately taken to the cardiac catheterization lab where Interventional Cardiologist Keith Atassi, M.D. found a 100% blockage in the right coronary artery. Within 17 minutes of Roper’s arrival at the ER, Dr. Atassi had inserted a stent in his heart, restoring blood flow. “Porter’s cath lab team hit me like an Indy pit crew,” recalls Roper.
The 17-minute “door to balloon” response time was significantly less than the 90 minutes recommended by national guidelines.* But for Roper, it simply meant a new beginning. “I had one desperate shot and Porter nailed it,” he says. When his wife learned what had happened and raced to the hospital, she found Roper already in recovery. “My color was so good she thought I had been out tanning,” Roper smiles.
“When I look back, I knew better. I knew the signs – chest tightness, extreme fatigue, tingling arm – but I was still in denial about being in the early stages of a heart attack. So many rock stars helped me that day and I’m so grateful,” says Roper. “I intend to come back faster and stronger.”
Porter Regional Hospital is an Accredited Chest Pain Center. This prestigious designation means that Porter uses as evidence-based, systematic approach to cardiac patient care which allows clinicians to reduce time to treatment during the critical early stages of a heart attack.
*Door-to-balloon time: It is the amount of time between a heart attack patient’s arrival at the hospital to the time the patient has blood supply restored to the affected areas of the heart. Because “time is muscle” the delays in treating a heart attack increase the amount of cardiac muscle or long-term damage. The American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines recommend a door-to-balloon interval of no more than 90 minutes. Porter’s Center for Cardiovascular Medicine exceeds this expectation 96% of the time as reported by The Joint Commission’s Core Measures.