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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2017:01:12 12:56:35

On the first day of deer hunting season, November 28th, 2016, 61-year old John Butts of Thompson in Susquehanna County found himself in a peculiar position—happy and miserable. He’d gotten a deer, but his chest hurt. Pain radiated up his arm. He was exhausted walking up a small incline. He was nauseous and cold. He had trouble breathing as he sat in his deer stand. Butts knew he was in trouble. He was having a full-blown myocardial infarction — a heart attack.

Within a short time, Butts was in an ambulance on his way to Wayne Memorial Hospital (WMH), where he received life-saving treatment, a stent in his right coronary artery. He was back home with his family before the week was out.

“There’s no doubt they saved my life,” he said, “I’m very grateful.”

Butts was one of 184 patients treated in Wayne Memorial’s Heart & Vascular Center between its opening in June and the end of December. The volume to date has exceeded expectations; it’s almost the volume estimated for Year Five, according to WMH administrators.

Ninety-eight of the patients seen in 2016 received cardiac stents to help restore blood flow through coronary arteries. About 10% were experiencing heart attacks or a STEMI (ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction). During a STEMI, one of the heart’s major arteries that supply oxygen and blood to the heart muscle is blocked. It is profoundly life threatening.

“To say this service was needed in our area was an understatement,” says Wayne Memorial CEO David Hoff. “Our cardiac catheterization lab has definitely saved lives that might have been lost had help not come so soon and so close to home.”

And now, the lab is expanding. In addition to stenting, the staff hopes to offer Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) placement in the very near future. An ICD, implanted under the skin, can help detect abnormal heart rhythms and prevent sudden death in patients with a history of ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation.

“We’re thrilled to be able to grow our services,” says James Hockenbury, director Ancillary Services. He noted that the lab has “a great clinical team and top notch medical supervision.” The lab’s medical director, Raymond Resnick, MD, FACC, FSCAI, has more than two decades of experience in cardiology and interventional cardiology.

The staff also participates in educational outreach, not just during February, American Heart Month, but year round. When giving radio interviews or speaking to a local club such as Honesdale Rotary, staff emphasizes “good heart health.”

“The top three indicators for heart disease that we see are smoking, diabetes and family history,” said Sandra Skrobiszewski RT(R), RCIS, Lead Cardiovascular Care Coordinator. “If someone has heart disease in their family, we recommend they have a cardiac workup early in their 20s.”

And, of course, quit smoking!

John Butts admits he was a three-pack-a-day smoker until his heart attack. He cut back significantly after his hospitalization. And he knew the warning signs of a heart attack. Here is the list from the American Heart Association:

Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach

Shortness of breath (with or without chest discomfort)

Other signs: breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, lightheadedness

“If you have any of the signs, get help right away,” adds Skrobiszewski. Time is ‘muscle.’ The sooner you get help, the less significant the potential for long-term damage.”

For more information about Wayne Memorial’s Heart & Vascular Center, visit www.wmh.org.