Chuck, Survivor

Heart Attack Survivor

Chuck St. MartinChuck Heart Survivor

Even with a strong history of frequent heart disease in his family, no one thought it would catch up with Chuck St. Martin. His father died of a sudden and massive heart attack at the age of 49 due to blockage in his left atrium.

His father's identical twin brother died of the very same thing at the age of 32. His father's brother had a fatal heart attack at age 38, and other uncles and cousins suffered the same blockage and heart attacks, most of which died as a result.

So when Chuck came home from the gym on October 11, 2007, profusely sweating and complaining about chest pains, his wife Cindy didn't wait for an ambulance. She rushed him to Centennial Medical Plaza without delay.

Upon arrival, Chuck went into cardiac arrest eight times from which he was successfully resuscitated by Dr. McCardle and the cardiovascular team on duty at the time. He was then flown via Life Flight to The Medical Center of Aurora where he was in the care of Dr. Eugene Sherman. Chuck had just turned 51 three weeks earlier.

"Dr. McCardle and Dr. Sherman saved my life along with the entire teams at Centennial Medical Plaza and The Medical Center of Aurora. When I arrived, there was a team of 10-15 people waiting for me. It was amazing how quickly they acted."

The Medical Center of Aurora has one of the best records in the United States for the time between a patient's arrival to their treatment in a cath lab where the blocked artery is opened up and the blood flow restored.

As Chuck puts it, no one thought this would happen to him despite his family history as fitness was one of his top priorities all his life.

"I ate healthily, worked out at the gym every day, and had regular check ups with my doctor to avoid this very illness. I learned the hard way that genetics trump all."

The months to recovery were hard and frustrating. It took at least six months before he felt like himself again, and had the energy to even walk. But Chuck persevered, following a strict cardio rehab program. During rehab, he was given a defibrillator to keep his heart beating a healthy rate and prevent another massive heart attack.

His advice:
You have to have patience, and you have to believe in your doctors and you have to obey them. It might take a few months but eventually you will get better. People see me in the gym and they are amazed.

Listen to your doctors, and follow them without hesitation. Their knowledge, skills and wisdom saved my life and gave me the confidence that it won't happen again.

Patient written permission obtained prior to the posting of this story.