Heart attack survivor has advice for runners

December 4, 2011

At 46-years-old, Ray always thought he was healthy and fit

He never dreamed he'd have a heart attack but in June, while taking part in a charity Mud Run, he starting having problems.

"Very suddenly I couldn't grab my breath," he said.

Within seconds, race volunteers took Ray off the course, and called for an ambulance.

Paramedics Stacey Wident and Shawn Savering immediately knew what was happening.

"His heart rate was real low, in the 20s and he couldn't sustain his own blood pressure," said Wident.

Their van has an electrocardiogram that analyzed Ray's heartbeat and sent the data by blue tooth technology directly to Riddle Memorial Hospital.[

"His EKG was very dramatic, showing a large heart attack. The bottom of his heart was getting no blood and no oxygen," said Dr. Jonathan Felsher.

When Ray arrived eight minutes later, the hospital's lab was ready to go.

The national goal for heart attack treatment is to get a blocked artery open within 90 minutes. Ray's artery was open within 50 minutes.

Now, after cardiac rehab, Ray is recovered but he realizes his slightly elevated cholesterol levels, and some family history of heart disease were early warning signs.

"You can't outrun your genes," he said.

Ray's doctor stresses how important it is to listen to your body. Not all heart attacks occur the same way.

"I have one patient who has nose itches. I've had patients with bilateral thumb pain as a heart attack along with elbow pain and ear pain. Bizarre things can be heart attacks," said Dr. Felsher.

While a pre-race physical might not have prevented Ray's heart attack, doctors do urge anyone taking part in these athletic events to get checked out first, especially if you are over 40-years-old.

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