Quick Response Saves 38-Year-Old Man

The irony isn't lost on Jaime Hernandez: He suffered a heart attack last January while he and his wife were on their way to a steak dinner that was to be followed by a "bacon and beer tasting."

"I ruined date night," the Tinley Park father of three ruefully recalls.

Though he had no family history of heart disease and never experienced symptoms, Jaime says he hadn't felt well all day leading up to his heart attack.

"I started getting short of breath," he remembers. "My left hand clenched up involuntarily. Then my left arm stiffened up completely, and I was sweating."

Jaime's quick-thinking wife dialed 911 from her mobile phone. The operator told her to pull off at the next interstate exit, where an ambulance would meet them.

EMTs stabilized Jaime, gave him a baby aspirin to chew and whisked him to Ingalls Memorial Hospital, where interventional cardiologist Francis Almeda, M.D., was waiting for him.

Within minutes, he was taken to the hospital's cardiac catheterization laboratory where he underwent an emergency balloon angioplasty to reopen a severely clogged coronary artery, and received a stent to keep it open.

As part of the Ingalls lifesaving "door-to-balloon" protocol, angioplasty and stenting are performed within 90 minutes. "Research shows the faster a heart attack is treated, the lower the potential for heart muscle damage," Dr. Almeda explained.

Back on the Road to Heart Health

While his heart attack came as a shock, Jaime admits he wasn't exactly a poster boy for good health either.

"My cholesterol was 210, and a recent blood pressure test showed that I was in the pre-hypertensive range," he said.

Jaime said he skipped the gym more than he hit it. Pounds crept on with less activity and more fattening foods. "My biggest mistake was that I didn't regularly see a doctor," he said.

But his January 15 wake-up call has the determined husband and father back on the road to heart health.

"God bless Dr. Almeda and everyone at Ingalls Hospital for saving my life."

Jaime's advice to others who may be ignoring their health: "You don't want to reach this point to make changes in your life. See your doctor and make smarter choices."

Watch our exclusive online video of Jaime Hernandez at www.Ingalls.org/ProgessVideo

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