James Bognet of Hazle Township spent Saturday, July 29, 2017, in typical fashion. He got up at 5 a.m., drank coffee, read the paper, stopped in at the offices of his firm, Bognet Inc., and then headed to his vegetable garden on Harrison Street. Later, he washed his car, took a shower and rested in his easy chair. By 2 p.m., Bognet, 69, was having a heart attack.
“I became weak and started throwing up,” he says. It came out of the blue.
“The bottom wall of the heart lies next to the diaphragm, which is right on top of the stomach. There can be an indirect irritation of the stomach to cause vomiting [during a heart attack],” says cardiologist Jeffrey Snyder, MD, with LVPG Cardiology.
A wife’s intuition
Bognet’s wife, Patrice, asked if he was having chest pain or arm pain. No, he said initially to each symptom of a heart attack. Then the numbness swelled up in his chest, soon encasing his entire upper body. This strange sensation worried him.
“I was scared,” says the owner of Bognet, Inc., whose projects include renovations at East Stroudsburg University, the Pike County courthouse and Main Street in East Stroudsburg. “I was a dead man walking, but God wasn’t ready to take me.”
Suspecting that her husband was having a heart attack, Patrice called 911. The APT, Inc., ambulance arrived in minutes.
“You’re having a heart attack,” paramedic Dale LeCrone told Bognet after doing an electrocardiogram (EKG) in the ambulance. Minutes later, they arrived at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Hazleton.
Even before the patient arrived, the ER team was preparing to send Bognet into cardiac catheterization at LVH–Cedar Crest. The catheterization center uses imaging technology to visualize arteries – and blockages – in the heart.
LVH–Hazleton restores his pulse
When Bognet arrived, he was very sweaty, had vomit all over his shirt, and was very pale. Then his heart stopped. The ER team defibrillated him, and Bognet said, “I’m back.”
Minutes later, Bognet’s heart stopped again. Every nurse in the ER helped work on him until his heart was beating again, but still he was in danger of not surviving.
Eventually, they got his pulse back, but Bognet was not breathing on his own, so they inserted a breathing tube. Soon LVHN MedEvac arrived, and he was off to LVH–Cedar Crest. Snyder met him there and immediately brought him in for cardiac catheterization.
LVH–Cedar Crest opens blocked artery
“His coronary artery was 100 percent blocked. The entire bottom wall of his heart was not getting any oxygen at that time,” Snyder says. A stent was inserted to reopen the artery.
Snyder says Bognet’s artery could have been partially blocked for months. “Then that part of the heart is stressed and undergoes a chemical reaction, taking the artery from partially blocked to completely blocked.”
By following protocols, Bognet was in recovery just 106 minutes after his wife first called 911. The national standard is 120 minutes.
Recovering but not retiring
Five days later, Bognet was discharged home, on the mend and grateful to be alive. “I can’t say enough about the excellent care from the EMT crew to the emergency room, helicopter crew and entire cardiac care staff at Lehigh Valley Hospital,” Bognet says.
Bognet says he’s ready to “slow down,” and hired help to add to his excellent staff at work and delegate more responsibilities to others. But retirement isn’t even a long shot for him; his father worked until he was 81.
Besides, he says, he needs the stimulation of work and his hobbies to keep his mind agile and his body moving. “Use it or lose it,” he says. “And I choose to use it.”