Tests showed his left anterior descending artery was 100% blocked, which caused his cardiac arrest. A cardiac arrest caused by a heart attack involving this blood vessel is commonly referred to as a “widow-maker” because of the high mortality rate, especially in cardiac arrest that occurs outside the hospital.
Singh spoke with Henrick’s wife of 35 years, Diane, by phone. He explained he wanted to get her husband into the cardiac catheterization lab as soon as possible. Unless they moved quickly, Henrick stood little to no chance. She told him to do anything and everything he had to do to save her husband.
Singh immediately decided to open a vacant operating room within the cardiac catheterization laboratory to speed up the start of Henrick’s procedure. Henrick was on the operating table within 20 minutes of arriving at the emergency room. Working quickly, Singh installed an Impella® heart pump, the world’s smallest, to temporarily assist Henrick’s weakened heart. He cleared the blockage in Henrick’s left anterior descending artery and inserted a stent to keep the blood vessel open. As part of his treatment, Henrick also underwent targeted temperature management (formerly called therapeutic hypothermia) to ensure brain function recovery.
As Henrick was being transported to the cardiac intensive care unit after Singh cleared the blockage and installed the heart pump, Heffner says he joked with Henrick, saying “If you think you’re getting any more strokes from me just because you had a heart attack ...” Henrick, who was sedated, didn’t hear him then. But as friends will do, Heffner told him about it later.
“He’s doing great,” Heffner says. “You would never know he had a massive heart attack.”
“We were very fortunate and blessed in part because the cardiac arrest occurred at a place equipped with an AED and people who immediately began to perform high-quality CPR,” Singh says. “The proximity of the golf course also helped tremendously since it was within several miles of EMS and the hospital.”
Even after successful resuscitation and optimal interventional treatment for cardiac arrest due to a heart blockage, more often than not, there remains some degree of weakened heart muscle. Singh says another remarkable part of the story is how quickly Henrick’s heart rebounded. The volume of blood Henrick’s heart was pumping out his left ventricle with each heartbeat improved to 60% within six days, up from the original 20%. Normal ranges from 50-70%.
“He walked out of the hospital with completely normal heart function, which is only possible with quick, precise action and very high-level cardiovascular care,” Singh says.
Singh says acutely critical cases like Henrick’s are always a team effort, with everyone doing their part to save a life. “It’s an incredible honor and privilege to be a part of this team. I am extremely proud of all our first responders, doctors, nurses, and staff for their continued dedication and hard work in caring for our community,” he says.
Henrick says it was a “perfect storm” of events that day that gave him his second chance.