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Published on February 06, 2012

Back to life: Heart patient gets another chance at Nazareth Hospital

ToddWhen Thomas Todd retired from his career as a stonemason a few years ago, he wanted to keep busy. So he took on handyman jobs around his Huntingdon Valley neighborhood. But one hot day in October of 2011, his handyman project was cut short by a heart attack.

Close to home

“I was going up and down the ladder trying to patch a large hole in a ceiling,” recalls Thomas, 75. “I couldn’t figure out the best approach, and I was pretty aggravated. Then I suddenly started sweating a lot and just not feeling well. By the time I got in my truck, the chest pain started.”

Thomas—who has a history of heart disease—drove to his daughter’s house nearby and called 911. “When the ambulance came, my daughter wanted to take me to the hospital where she works,” he says. “But the paramedics took me to Nazareth because it was the closest.” Fortunately for Thomas, not only was Nazareth Hospital nearby, it was perfectly equipped and staffed to care for him and his heart.

Expertise at hand

In spring 2011, Nazareth Hospital partnered with Penn Cardiac Care to expand cardiac services that allow immediate treatment of heart attacks using cardiac catheterization technology. Now, a wide range of cardiac patients—whether elective or emergency cases—can receive interventional coronary angioplasty and stenting procedures at Nazareth.

Thomas suffered a STEMI heart attack, caused by a complete blockage of a coronary artery. A stent inserted in his artery years ago had developed a clot, blocking blood flow to his heart.

“The preferred treatment for a STEMI is an angioplasty, where we rush the patient to the cath lab and open up the blocked artery immediately,” explains Robert H. Li, MD, medical director of Nazareth Hospital’s Heart and Vascular Lab. “The advantage for a STEMI patient like Thomas is that he was treated immediately instead of having to be transferred to another hospital for the procedure.”

The Heart and Vascular Lab is available 24 hours, seven days a week, and the physicians are all highly experienced interventional cardiologists.

Back to life

Thomas arrived at Nazareth just in time. His heart stopped beating, but the Emergency Department staff responded quickly, defibrillating Thomas to restore his pulse and rushing him to the cath lab. There, doctors inserted a second stent inside his old one. The new stent was expanded to open the clot and return blood flow to his heart.

“When I woke up in the ICU, everyone treated me so special. I felt like a movie star or Elvis,” recalls Thomas. “The people were phenomenal. They made me feel so important, which probably helped as much as anything.”

“I’ve lived in this neighborhood awhile, and I thought Nazareth was not the place to go with a heart attack,” he admits. “But when I arrived at Nazareth, everyone jumped right in and fixed me up. They brought me back to life.”

Cardiac Care. Discover more about caring cardiac expertise at Nazareth. Visit mercyhealth.org/nazareth.

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