David Dykstal

David Dykstal

Heart Attack!

The Monday after Easter I had a heart attack. It was just after dinner. Ann and I were watching TV. We had just gotten back that noon from visiting my son in San Antonio for Easter and were catching up on some shows when I could not get comfortable. A mild pain in my upper chest  had reached about mid way down my upper arms. It was not severe but was getting worse. It did not feel like the proverbial "elephant on my chest", but it was enough. I recognized the signs. I told Ann to take me to the ER.

Now the pain was getting bad. The ER saw me right away. Given four baby aspirin. Took ECGs. Nothing unusual. Took blood to establish a baseline for troponin - a protein linked to heart damage. Wait two hours. Another blood sample. Wait for the lab. Troponin levels up slightly. ER doc was suspicious enough to hold me for observation. It was 1:30am. Still not comfortable but in less pain than before. Wait four hours. Another blood sample. Wait for the lab. Troponin levels were now 10x baseline. ECG still normal. Wait some more. Another ECG, still normal. Troponin levels were now 20x baseline. GERD? No, the troponin levels don't make sense. Myocarditis? Could be tied to my recent COVID infection. Heart attack is also a possibility. Doctors ordered a CT scan. It showed a blockage in a coronary artery branch near the bottom of my heart: a heart attack. Immediately transferred to the cath lab for an angiogram. I had been in the ER about 12 hours monitored continuously.

I was mildly sedated. Angiogram took about 45 minutes and went smoothly. A stent was inserted and the artery was unblocked. I felt great again. Admitted to the hospital for overnight observation hooked up to IVs and monitors.

The next morning I received an echocardiogram -- a heart ultrasound. My heart showed no noticeable damage. I am cleared to be discharged.

I now have a new list of medications and a renewed emphasis on losing weight and getting more cardio into my exercise regimen. I began cardiac rehab program.

I am incredibly lucky.