Second Chance After Heart Attack

Ron Adkins is back to hosting Afternoon Jazz at KCCK-FM in Cedar Rapids after a heart attack...
Ron Adkins is back to hosting Afternoon Jazz at KCCK-FM in Cedar Rapids after a heart attack last year.

Sponsored - Ron Adkins has been given a second chance at life. At 54, the Cedar Rapids man is feeling the best he has felt in years and says he owes it all to his heart attack.

“I asked myself, ‘You’ve been given the opportunity to keep living. What are you going to do with it?’” shared Adkins. “I started going to cardiac rehab after my heart attack and it was amazing. The people at St. Luke’s cardiac rehab are great, and they really motivate you to want to be better. Since I had my heart attack a year ago, I’ve lost 50 pounds and I feel the best I’ve felt in decades.”

Initially Adkins thought his heart attack was indigestion and maybe even depression. He noticed he had slowed considerably over time. “I just hadn’t been feeling like myself,” shared Adkins. “There were many weeks where all I wanted to do is sleep. I would go to bed early and ignore the alarm in the morning. I had no energy. It kept getting progressively worse, and I thought it might be linked to depression.”

One morning last year, Adkins started feeling indigestion and a growing sharp pain in his chest. He took some antacids, called work and said he was going to be in late.

“About two hours later I went into work and the entire office staff came over to come talk to me and ask me if I was OK,” recalled Adkins. “I said, ‘I don’t know, we’ll see how the day goes.’ My boss said, ‘We can get you to the emergency room.’ Around that time, I had a massive twinge in my chest, and I said, ‘let’s go to the ER.’”

One of Adkins’ co-workers drove him to St. Luke’s ER. St. Luke’s is the area’s heart hospital. St. Luke’s has earned the Chest Pain Center Accreditation with Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) and Resuscitation from the American College of Cardiology. The certification is based on rigorous on-site evaluation of the staff’s ability to evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients who may be experiencing a heart attack.

Heart Attack

“I walked into the ER and said I was having chest pain, and they immediately rushed me back to a room,” recalled Adkins, “I had exceptional care. It was amazing how many people were worried about me, making sure I was comfortable and wasn’t afraid. Dr. Halawa came in, looked at my EKG and told me I was having a heart attack. He said, ‘Don’t worry. We are going to take good care of you.’ He was amazing and showed genuine care.”

“Ron’s EKG and his blood work showed he was having a heart event,” said Subhi Halawa, MD, UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Cardiology. “He was transported to our cardiac cath lab and he was found to have a complete occlusion of a blood vessel that supplies the backside of the heart. We removed the blockage and put in a stent. He’s fortunate he did not suffer a lot of heart damage.”

“I’m amazed at how fast I was treated,” Adkins shared. “I was in the cath lab within half an hour of when I arrived at St. Luke’s ER. I woke up after my procedure and felt better than I had in a long time.”

Seek Care Immediately

“Ron is fortunate his heart did not fibrillate and cause cardiac arrest,” said Dr. Halawa. “He could have died. I encourage people to come in and get checked when symptoms are not going away. In Ron’s case it was indigestion and then some chest pain. If you are not feeling well, it’s best to get checked as soon as possible. A false alarm is better than waiting. If you wait and you are having a heart attack, you may have more complications down the line.”

“Don’t be stubborn,” Adkins stressed. “Listen to your body. I was very lucky. I was initially writing off my heart attack symptoms as something completely different. I am glad I finally paid attention and went to St. Luke’s ER. I trust their care. I always have.”

Call 911 or go immediately to St. Luke’s ER if you are experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, or other signs of a heart attack. There’s only one choice for your heart – choose St. Luke’s, the heart hospital.

Heart Scan

Heart disease can go undetected for years. St. Luke’s developed Heart Scan to speed up the process of finding heart disease. This screening is used to identify plaque in the coronary arteries and assess heart health. There are no injections, treadmills or pre-test fasting. The cost is $99. A computed tomography (CT) machine takes X-ray pictures of the heart and detects plaque in the arteries, creating a number called a calcium score. This number helps healthcare providers assess heart disease risks.

The Heart Scan is for men and women between the ages of 40 and 70. All that’s needed is a doctor’s referral. To learn more or to schedule, call Heart Care Services at (319) 369-8909.