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Ryan Petersen

  • Date Submitted: Feb 5, 2020
  • Category: Cardiology

December 12, 2019 was like every other morning. For the past week, I had been battling a chest cold, but I was starting to feel a little better. I got up and was having coffee and breakfast. I suddenly had a big cough, similar to other mornings, but this time, I noticed a searing pain in my chest, as if I had strained my lungs. I thought, “that was intense”. I did some stretches. It not only continued, but got worse. Nothing worked. It was a deep pain that started radiating toward the center of my body. I did more stretches and nothing still worked. I could not get comfortable. At that point, I knew I needed to be seen. I did not want it to be nothing, but I thought I better take care of it.

I called my wife, Clare, at work. She works at Myrtue Medical Center’s Physical Therapy and she said she would meet me in the ER. Clare called my dad to pick me up and went to Myrtue Medical Center’s Emergency Room. My jaw was really sore and then the tingling down my left arm started. All the way down to my pinky finger—it was numb and tingling. I was met by Deb, the nurse, and she did a wonderful job keeping me calm.

They gave me a Nitro pill, took my blood and preformed an EKG. After reviewing the EKG, Dr. Heileson came in the room and said, “I don’t like the look of your EKG. We are going to transfer you to Jennie Edmundson—looks like you are having a a heart attack. I don’t know how much blockage you have, but we will take care of you.” Dr. Heilesen consulted with Dr. Brandt, Jennie Edmundson, Cardiologist, who was on-site at Myrtue’s Specialty Clinic. They agreed that I needed to go directly to the cath lab at Jennie.

I exercised extensively before and got my blood work done on a regular basis. However, I admit, I didn’t really follow-up on what my blood work said. I didn’t watch what I was eating. I travel a lot for work and just ate whatever sounded good and was easy. I knew I didn’t have the healthiest diet but I thought if I exercised enough it would all balance out in the end. Even though I have a family history of heart issues, I thought, ‘I’m young and relatively healthy, I don’t have to worry about that stuff right now.’

Now I know many of the symptoms I was experiencing could have been warning signs that something wasn’t right. Shortness of breath. Extreme fatigue. Headaches. These were all signs but I brushed them off and attributed them to a chest cold.

As it turned out I had a 100% in my left anterior descending (LAD) artery. The care I received at Myrtue and Jennie Edmundson may have saved my life.

After my time in Cardiac Rehab, I know there is still work to be done. I learned about eating right and the importance of changing my diet. I pay a lot more attention to what I eat now. The Cardiac Rehab at Myrtue has been wonderful, I’ve really enjoyed it.

This experience resulted in a complete 180 degree change in my life. I am not going to go backwards. I never want to feel that pain again. I know I have to make changes in my diet and take better care of myself even though I’m still young. You shouldn’t wait until something bad happens to make changes.

I would tell other people who know they have heart issues in their family history or who have high cholesterol “Don’t ignore it. Get it checked out.” My cholesterol was high and I ignored it. I should have paid much more attention. You just never know so it’s always best to get it checked out. Pay attention to your family history. Pay attention to your numbers. Pay attention to what you eat.

Ryan Petersen