POCKET EKG SAVES LIVES
“IN Vino Veritas” is a Latin phrase meaning, “In wine [is] truth.” Such was the case when a Wine and Wellness Heart Fair brought to light a hard reality for a future heart surgery patient. The free heart screening, sponsored by Lafayette General Medical Center (LGMC) and Cardiovascular Institute of the South (CIS), was key to setting off a series of events that saved a man’s life.
Deborah Mengarelli attended her first Heart Fair in March. Afterwards, she begged and finally got her husband Paul to attend the next screening at the April 26 Wine and Wellness event at CIS. It was the first time they discovered something might be wrong.
The electrocardiogram, or EKG, is a painless test that uses the electrical activity in your heart to monitor the rhythm of your heartbeat. The Heart Fair provides patients with a Pocket EKG keepsake of their baseline EKG that medical professionals can reference in case of emergency or to compare with future EKGs.
“My EKG didn’t look right,” said Paul. “They said it looked like I might have had a heart attack in the past. I said ‘When? I don’t remember that!’”
He needed more tests. After subsequent exams, each raising more red flags, it had become evident that he had serious blockage of blood flow. He was immediately scheduled for an angiogram, which found 100 percent blockage in three different areas, and 80 percent blockage in another area. Basically, he was a ticking time bomb waiting for a heart attack to occur.
“None of the typical symptoms were there,” explained Paul. “No chest pain or anything. I still worked out.” He worked his regular job and was in good shape physically because of his practice of martial arts and exercise.
The screening that caught this case did exactly what it was designed to do, explained John Patterson, M.D., the cardiologist that conducted the screening for LGMC. “You don’t have to have symptoms,” said Dr. Patterson. “What screening allows is identifying the atypical patients.”
Mr. Mengarelli had risk factors, not symptoms, according to Dr. Patterson. “It’s imperative for patients to learn at these events what their risk factors are, and to understand the importance of getting screened.”
Paul’s wife Deborah, a former nurse at LGMC, described how doctors credited her husband’s good conditioning with helping his body build what is called collateral circulation, a way for blood flow to temporarily bypass the blockage. “That’s all that was keeping him alive,” she said.
Paul is now recovering from a triple bypass surgery. “They claim I’m better than before,” he laughed.
Were it not for his EKG screening, things might not have turned out so well for him. “How could I have been that bad off and not known it?” he pondered. “If I hadn’t been screened, my first sign of heart trouble would have killed me."
Source: 008 Magazine
August/September 2012; pg. 58