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Speedy treatment makes all the difference for heart attack survivor

The morning of his heart attack, Newnan, Ga., executive Duncan Crowdis said he felt fine. Shortly after he arrived at this office – about 7:50 a.m. – Crowdis began to experience a sensation of tightness in his chest. He had worked out at the gym the previous night, so he assumed he had pulled a muscle. However, unlike a muscle strain, the pain worsened and started to expand across his chest. “I started feeling a little lightheaded and a numb sensation – not serious, but just odd,” he explains.

“My body didn’t feel right.” Knowing something was wrong, Crowdis decided to go to the hospital. A coworker took him to Piedmont Newnan Hospital's emergency department for evaluation. From there, the process was expedited. Within five minutes, Crowdis was helped into a wheelchair and underwent an electrocardiogram (EKG), a test that determines the electrical activity of the heart. “They very quickly realized I was having a heart attack,” says Crowdis.

The team decided to transport him to Piedmont Fayette Hospital and told him to expect the treatment process to move rapidly. “The whole thing took a very short period of time – it turns out it only took 22 minutes,” he says.

As he was leaving in the ambulance, he could see the emergency department team that had cared for him high-fiving one another. “I felt like I was NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson leaving the pit after a successful stop with the crew giving themselves high-fives,” says Crowdis.

At first he attributed this sight to the medications he was given, but a member of his medical team later confirmed they had been celebrating. “She said their goal was to get heart attack patients through in 30 minutes and I was processed in 22 minutes,” he says.

Crowdis was then taken to the Piedmont Fayette cardiac catheterization lab for a stent, which involves a minimally-invasive procedure. A stent is a small tube that expands narrowed or weakened arteries. He was then placed in an intensive care unit recovery room.

When he looked at the clock, it was only 10:20 a.m. – and he had made the decision to go to the hospital at just 8:10 a.m. “It took just a little over two hours to get me to the hospital, process me through Newnan, get me in an ambulance, transport me to Fayette and put in a stent,” he says. “It was an incredible experience.” Crowdis says he feels healthy and energetic again after receiving a stent.

“When they put the stent in, I felt automatic relief because I was conscious at the time,” he explains. “I must have been a pain in the ICU because I was ready to go that afternoon, but I had to stay still for a little while.” He was discharged from the hospital two days later. Crowdis’ cardiologist told him that the heart attack was likely caused by genetic factors, despite his healthy and active lifestyle. “My health and my fitness probably prevented it from happening earlier,” he says. “In all likelihood, it allowed me to take the blow of a heart attack and recover very quickly.”

In fact, Crowdis’ heart was functioning at 100 percent just two days after his heart attack, which his cardiologist called “phenomenal.” “At the end of the day, it was a good ending,” he says. 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 arm
  • 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

For more information on heart attack symptoms and treatment, visit Piedmont Heart Institute.

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