Carol Barry knew something was wrong when her husband, Patrick, hadn’t returned to their Emmaus home after going out for a run. She had a sense that he was on the ground and that he’d had a heart attack. She was right – her husband of 28 years had suffered a massive “widowmaker” heart attack while out running. But the problem was, she didn’t know precisely where he was, and he wasn’t carrying a mobile phone or identification.
After unsuccessfully trying to find him on her own, Carol urgently began calling local hospitals. It was only when she called Emmaus Police and they asked, “Is it possible he was out running around 11 a.m.?” that her worst fears were realized. The police dispatcher told her a “John Doe” was found in a yard by a woman playing with her children.
Lifesaving from the start
When Patrick Barry was discovered, he was purple-blue from lack of oxygen. Emmaus Police Department officer Craig Blose and paramedic Craig Deppe, with Emmaus EMS, performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Patrick was immediately defibrillated by EMS and taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Cedar Crest, unconscious but with a pulse. “It was hour to hour, and there was a lot of prayer,” Carol recalls. “I didn’t know it at the time, but he was taken to a really great hospital for lifesaving heart care.” At LVH–Cedar Crest, the cardiac team immediately went into action. They opened his blocked artery and placed a stent to keep it open. However, Patrick was in cardiogenic shock, meaning his heart’s main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, was too weak to pump oxygenated blood as it normally does. To temporarily support his heart, an Impella® device was used.
The right technologies
“The tiny Impella device is implanted using a catheter that’s threaded through an artery in the leg,” says cardiologist Benjamin Sanchez, MD, with LVPG Cardiology. Impella is placed in the bottom left chamber of the heart (left ventricle), where it pumps up to 4 liters of blood per minute to ensure the body’s organs and limbs receive adequate blood supply.
“Impella gives the heart a chance to rest and recover,” Sanchez says. Doctors also used a technology called Arctic Sun® Temperature Management System to lower his body temperature to 91 degrees. Therapeutic hypothermia helps reduce risk for brain damage that may occur after the brain has been without oxygen.
Lehigh Valley Heart and Vascular Institute has implanted the Impella device in more than 200 patients at LVH–Cedar Crest, LVH–Muhlenberg and LVH–Pocono, more than any hospital in northeastern Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia region.
“There are very few things that amaze me after all the years that I’ve been in medicine, but Impella is an amazing tool,” says interventional cardiologist Bryan Kluck, DO, with LVPG Cardiology. “Without the Impella, there’s a good chance that Mr. Barry would not have survived. If he did, he would have had a very prolonged hospitalization and only a partial recovery. Instead, he’s living a very normal life.”
Thriving and thankful
Patrick left the hospital after 10 days with full brain function and a dedication to getting back to full strength. He spent six weeks completing cardiac rehabilitation and was back to work as a pharmaceutical executive a month later. He credits the cardiac rehab team for its role in helping him on the journey. “Through their monitoring and encouragement, they not only helped me regain physical strength, but also confidence that my heart was healthy and I could return to a normal life,” Patrick says.
Today, the father of three eats “cleaner,” takes his medications faithfully and exercises four to five times a week at the gym. He also runs farther (4 miles vs. 2.5 miles) than before his heart attack, always making sure to wear a runner’s identification band whenever he’s out on a run.
“I have to remind myself that I went through that experience because I really feel like myself again,” Patrick says. “I’m very blessed.”