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Doug Pyzer

North Carolina man suffers a heart attack, is airlifted to Piedmont Atlanta

In late March 2014, Doug Pyzer, 66, was doing yard work at his Murphy, N.C., home when he began having slight chest pains. Thinking it was heartburn, he went inside and took antacids. An hour later, the pain had not subsided, so his wife Sandy called his physician in nearby Blairsville, Ga. She scheduled an appointment right away and the couple, along with their dog, made the 30-minute trip to the doctor’s office.

Pyzer underwent an EKG and was told he needed to go to nearby Union General Hospital right away. There he met with John Kelley, M.D., a cardiologist with Piedmont Heart.

“He came in to see me and with EKG in hand, gave me the news,” remembers Pyzer. “I was having a heart attack right there and then, and the heart attack was very severe. This was all puzzling to me. I just thought it couldn’t happen to me, like I was invincible.”

Dr. Kelley told him he needed to be airlifted to Piedmont Atlanta for treatment.

“He informed me that I would be in great hands at Piedmont and that I was going to the best hospital possible for what I was undergoing,” remembers Pyzer.  

Arriving at Piedmont Atlanta

After a 30-minute helicopter ride, Pyzer arrived at Piedmont. Immediately, he was taken to the cardiac catheterization lab where interventional cardiologist Bhagat Reddy, M.D. used a stent to open up his 100 percent blocked artery.

“I was very fortunate I got help when I did,” he says.

Pyzer has another artery that is 70 percent blocked and expects to have another stent procedure in the near future.

Life after a heart attack

Pyzer says he has always eaten well, but has taken cholesterol medication for the past 10 years. Since his heart attack, he has lost 10 pounds.

“I have always enjoyed healthful meals, but I did eat large portions and often went back for seconds,” he says. “I have cut down considerably on that now, plus I have stopped eating unhealthy snacks, which I did far too often before my wake-up call.”

Pyzer urges others to listen to their bodies.

“The signs are there. Take action,” he says.

“We just look at each other with complete gratitude now,” says Sandy. “People need to know that they shouldn’t wait. We preach it every chance we get.”

Time is muscle during a heart attack, so call 911 immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Indigestion or gas-like pain
  • Unexplainable weakness or fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Discomfort or pain between the shoulder blades
  • Sense of impending doom

To learn more about heart attack warning signs and treatment, visit Piedmont Heart Institute

Need to make an appointment with a Piedmont physician? Save time, book online.

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