Cardiovascular Services

Patient Testimonials

My Heart Attack Story

David Cairo, 57, and his wife Mary Beth

David Cairo's Heart Attack StoryIt was May of 2012. I was doing yard work and started feeling a pain in my chest. That’s happened before, and I thought it was indigestion. I would just sit down, have a glass of water, smoke a couple cigarettes and the pain would go away.

But this time, it didn’t. In fact, the pain was moving up to my jaw and throughout an arm, and becoming more intense.

I was afraid to call the paramedics because if it wasn’t a heart attack, I’d feel like a fool. But I called 9-1-1 anyway. Everyone says that’s the smartest thing I’ve ever done because it turns out that time was of the essence. I had a blocked artery—and later I heard that I was having the kind of heart attack that’s nicknamed “the Widow Maker.”

The paramedics gave me nitroglycerin, did a bunch of tests and electronically sent the results to the Hospital. By the time they got me to the Hospital, the medical team, led by Dr. Barr, was ready and waiting for me.

Just 24 minutes later, my blocked artery had been reopened with a stent. Everything happened so fast that by the time my wife got there — and she left work as soon as she received the call — I was already in the recovery room.

Dr. Barr told me that there’s a window of opportunity for a patient to receive life-saving medical treatment following a heart attack. The national average is 90 minutes. I learned that Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare shoots for 60 minutes. And in my case—just 24 minutes—the medical team set a record.

Throughout this experience, I was in awe. I felt so helpless, and the pain was so immense; I was like a little baby just lying there. I didn’t know what to do, but these people were taking care of me and fixing me. In fact, there was a nurse in the cath lab who was reassuring me by stroking my hair. It was amazing how relieved that made me feel. When you’re in this crisis situation, you don’t know if you’re going to die or what.

Everyone was remarkable. From the Addison paramedics, to the nurses and the people pushing me in the wheelchairs to get tests, to the people who work with the rehab program who encouraged me and gave me confidence, to Dr. Barr who performed the surgery — I give them all big praise. They were great.

Since my heart attack, I have quit smoking, dramatically lowered my cholesterol, exercise more, lost weight and completely changed my diet. I eat so much chicken now that people ask me why I cross the road!

Thank God, everything worked out for me. I am so lucky and so grateful.

Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare Network

This site is part of the Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare network of Web sites, which covers a variety of topics using the same philosophy: When it comes to medical care, we know that you have a lot of options. And we want you to know that you're more than a patient to us. You're an individual. We would appreciate the opportunity to provide you with state-of-the-art medical care and down-to-earth, personalized attention.

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