Surviving a ‘Widow Maker’ Heart Attack
As he walked into Hackettstown Medical Center with stomach pain , Tony F. turned to his wife, Sandra, and said, “I’ll probably be home in a couple of days.” He assumed he was suffering from appendicitis.
But the hospital’s Emergency Department team soon realized Tony’s appendix wasn’t causing his upset stomach. A massive heart attack was.
Tony’s heart stopped beating moments after he arrived. An entire team, led by emergency medicine specialist Michael Connolly, MD, spent the next 45 minutes administering CPR and using an automatic external defibrillator to shock Tony’s heart back to life.
"I asked my cardiologist, Mark Rosenthal, MD, how close to a goner I was that day,” Tony says. “He told me I was gone. They brought me back three times.”
While clinicians worked on Tony, other Emergency Department team members called Atlantic Mobile Health for an air transport to Morristown Medical Center, recognized as a Level I regional trauma center by the American College of Surgeons and a Level II trauma center by the state of NJ.
“The team at Morristown have told me multiple times about what a great job Hackettstown did stabilizing me, prepping me, getting me to the helicopter on time and getting me over to Morristown,” Tony says.
Once Tony arrived at Morristown, interventional cardiologist Lawrence Blitz, MD, implanted a stent into his heart to open a blocked blood vessel.
Tony also suffered a small stroke during the heart attack. He spent a few days in a medically induced coma while recovering. After three weeks at Morristown Medical Center and two weeks of rehabilitation, he returned home.
Today, under the care of Dr. Rosenthal, Tony’s heart is beating strong again. The 61-year-old exercises regularly, eats a heart-healthy diet and is back to working remotely as an adjunct professor in the aerospace engineering graduate program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Tony returned to Hackettstown Medical Center to thank his care team. “I asked who performed CPR on me, and six people raised their hands,” Tony says. “There’s no way I can thank my medical team enough.”