Community Memorial

Heart Attack: Germantown Woman Survives Brush With Death

Lori HaehleIt was supposed to be a relaxing vacation with her husband, Jeff, on Marco Island off Florida’s coast. But on the second day, 52 year-old Lori Haehle began to experience unusual pain.

“I started to have pain in the upper part of my back,” Lori recalled. “It was bad and would not let up and continued the entire time we were on vacation.”

Unfortunately, after the Germantown couple returned home, Lori didn’t contact her doctor. She was chopping ice from her driveway the following week when the back pain suddenly returned.

“I had a little bit of pain in the front but I thought maybe I had pulled a muscle from chopping ice and shoveling earlier” Lori remembers. “I walked upstairs, sat down and thought, ‘Something just didn’t feel right.’”

Jeff called 9-1-1 and, in the ambulance ride to Community Memorial Hospital, Lori learned she was having a heart attack.

“When they come to the emergency room like that, the very first thing the nurses do, even before the doctors see them, is do an electrocardiogram (EKG),” said Richard Wakefield, MD, interventional cardiologist on staff at Community Memorial Hospital. “It was clear that she was having an anterior infarct, that’s the front part of the heart. That’s the most dangerous of all heart attacks.”

Cardiac catheterization revealed severe blockage in one of Lori’s arteries. “Way on the top and right in the middle of it, she had a 99 percent obstruction,” said Dr. Wakefield. “The higher up the obstruction is in the artery, the closer it is to the beginning of the artery, the bigger the problem.”

Dr. Wakefield and the Community Memorial Hospital team inserted a moderate-sized stent and restored normal blood flow. After she recovered, Lori participated in Community Memorial Hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. The program begins with an inpatient program, followed by an outpatient program which includes an educational component. Today, she continues in the rehab program on her own and maintains a vigorous workout program using the treadmill, elliptical machine, stationary bike and weights.

“You have to make time for this,” said Lori. “It’s your life. They teach you how to eat the right foods and read the labels when you’re grocery shopping and just get your strength back. I can’t say enough about Dr. Wakefield and the cardiac rehab staff.”

While Lori’s symptoms – back and chest pain, sweats and lightheadedness – are common, Dr. Wakefield cautions about additional warning signs.

“The symptoms can be anywhere from the chest to the shoulders to the arms, the back, to the throat and jaw,” Dr. Wakefield explained. “It’s distributed around and it’s really kind of the way the discomfort sounds and behaves that gives us a sense of whether it’s cardiac (related).”

For her part, Lori knows she survived a very serious health condition.

“I received the best care possible at Community Memorial Hospital. They’re incredible. They listened to me and understood my fears. They saved my life.”

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