Heart and Vascular Patient Story: Henri Rozier
Teacher Learns About Froedtert
Henri Rozier had a stressful job and a two-pack-a-day smoking habit. He had no idea he had heart disease – until a heart attack almost killed him.
Rozier, a Milwaukee Public Schools French teacher, hadn’t been feeling well but wasn’t overly concerned. A complete physical just a few months earlier had returned a clean bill of health. So on December 18, 2006, he headed to school as usual. He planned to swing by his dentist’s office after school. Maybe the dentist could do something about his aching jaw.
At school, though, he felt worse. Woozy. He stepped across the hall to tell a colleague, then returned to his classroom. Suddenly, Rozier said, he had an overwhelming sense that something was going to happen.
He remembers yelling, “‘I think I’m having a heart attack, call 911.” Next thing he knew, he was on the floor, looking up the ceiling. Fellow teachers helped him to the teachers’ lounge and encouraged him to rest on a futon. The paramedics, they said, had already been called.
When the paramedics arrived, they gave Rozier oxygen and nitroglycerin, a medication that dilates blood vessels and improves blood flow to the heart. Then they loaded him onto a stretcher and headed for the front door and waiting ambulance.
But about ten feet from the door, Rozier said, he “went away.”
“It was a wild experience,” Rozier said. On the one hand, he knew that the paramedics were shocking him and performing chest compressions, trying to re-start his stalled heart. On the other hand, he’d occasionally float away to another, perfectly calm and peaceful space. “The most amazing thing is that I was aware every time I was in that other space,” Rozier said.
It took eleven or twelve shocks to jumpstart Rozier’s heart and Rozier is forever grateful to his persistent paramedics. He’s also grateful for the decision they made next: to take him to the Heart and Vascular Center at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Rozier was whisked to the cardiac catheterization lab, where David A. Marks, MD, Medical College of Wisconsin interventional cardiologist and director of the catheterization lab, threaded a thin plastic tube through Rozier’s blood vessels to his heart. What he found was a complete blockage of the left anterior descending artery.
Complete blockages of arteries supplying the heart are never good, but a blockage of the left anterior descending artery, Rozier learned, is particularly bad. Doctors call it “the widow maker” because it almost always leads to death.
Rozier – and his wife—were lucky. Dr. Marks was able to unblock the artery and inserted a stent, a sort of wire scaffolding, to keep the vessel open.
In the days that followed, Rozier got to know Dr. Marks. “I was incredibly impressed with him,” Rozier said. “He’s obviously very knowledgeable, competent and confident. My wife and I definitely had the sense that we were dealing with one of the top guys in the country.”
After a short hospital stay, Rozier returned home. He continued his recovery with the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, a comprehensive program of exercise, risk modification and nutritional counseling.
Rozier was so pleased with the care he received at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin that both he and his wife have transferred to Medical College of Wisconsin physicians.
“I didn’t even know where Froedtert was when the paramedics were taking me there,” Rozier said. “Now, I don’t go anywhere else. If you’re going to be sick in Wisconsin, Froedtert is the place to be.”