There's an old saying, "things aren't always what they seem." For one an Aberdeen man, truer words were never spoken.
Tim Gisi thought breakfast wasn't agreeing with him, but something told him this was more than your average heart burn
"I'm one of those people who doesn't really get sick and the more I thought about it and debated it I thought I better go in and get checked." Said Gisi.
So Tim and his wife Shawna made a trip to the Avera St. Luke's Emergency Room, that's when things went from mildly uncomfortable to life-threatening.
"I'm standing there giving them what I can remember of his family history and they say Code Blue, so I was like Code Blue? Where could that be? I turn around and they were already up on the table doing chest compressions on him." Said Shawna Gisi.
"All of a sudden I got really hot, I went from calm to just sweating and as I was sitting there my heart started beating faster and faster and the next thing I know I was in a deep sleep." Said Tim Gisi.
Within minutes of coming to the hospital Tim coded, meaning he lost consciousness. ER Doctors tried to use CPR to bring him back and when that failed they had to shock him.
"Anytime there's a code it's no longer business as usual, it gets your attention." Says ER Physician Dr. Michael Schlosser.
Dr. Schlosser says situations like Tim's are very rare but when they do pop up everyone springs into action.
"If there's a code, people come from the floor. There's respiratory therapy, there's anesthesia to help intubate if we need to, and then the cath lab is emergently called so there's a lot of people to get mobilized quickly." Said Dr. Schlosser
Tim had a severe heart attack called a STEMI or an ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction. This type of attack is caused by blockage in the arteries, in Tim's case he's lucky he even made it to the hospital.
"I had almost 100% blockage on the right side of my heart." Said Gisi.
STEMIs are extremely life-threatening because for every second the artery is blocked, heart muscle starts to die which can lead to a massive heart attack and irreparable damage.
"It's very likely people when they do have STEMIs they may have electrical issues where their heart stops or it fibrillates and unless they get emergent care they're going to die." Said Dr. Schlosser
"If I literally would've been anywhere other than where they had the paddles to bring me back it wouldn't have worked." Said Gisi.
Doctors quickly placed a stent to open up Tim's blocked artery and after a few days of rest he was back to normal. Tim acted just in the nick of time, but he encourages others to learn from his mistake. Don't wait, just go.
"Go in to get checked out when it starts, like I said I waited and needless to say if I would of been 10 minutes later I wouldn't be here." Said Gisi.
Tim's situation was rare and you probably don't need to run to the doctor the next time you have heart burn. But be sure to check your family history and discuss your risk for heart disease at your next doctor's visit.
For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.