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A Fighting Chance - Daniel Bledsaw

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Oct, 2016

Physicians: Samuel Durham, MD

Heart attack symptoms don’t always present in the same way for everyone. Some may experience pain in their jaw, cold sweats, nausea, or shortness of breath. While others, like 50-year-old Daniel Bledsaw, may simply not “feel like themselves.” 

It was Fourth of July weekend. Daniel was traveling back home to Portage, Michigan after visiting family in Madison, Wisconsin. Shortly after crossing the Michigan border, Daniel’s wife Colleen noticed that he was pushing down and letting up on the gas pedal more often than normal. She thought it was strange and suggested that he pull the car over and take a few moments to stretch his legs. Daniel parked the car on the side of the road and began walking back and forth on the shoulder. On his third pass back toward the car, he collapsed.

Daniel’s wife and son rushed over to him and immediately called 9-1-1. His heart had stopped beating and he had gone into cardiac arrest.  A police officer arrived on scene, in what Colleen recalls as ‘seconds,’ and began administering CPR. Soon after, a second officer arrived and delivered a dose of electric current to Daniel’s heart using a defibrillator. From there he was transferred to Lakeland Medical Center, St. Joseph.

Due to the loss of blood flow to Daniel’s brain he was placed in a medically induced coma for the next three days and his body temperature was lowered – a standard of care for patients whose heart has been restarted. When Daniel was brought out of the coma, his family was pleased to learn that he had suffered little to no brain damage, which Daniel credits to the quick actions of first responders.

A week after the initial heart attack, cardiothoracic surgeon, Samuel Durham, MD, performed triple bypass surgery to repair the diseased heart artery.

“I am so thankful there was a high quality hospital close to where my accident took place,” said Daniel. “It’s a scary time after you have a heart attack because you’re unsure what to expect and how much damage took place. I really appreciate everything the staff at Lakeland did for me – they gave me a fighting chance.”

In addition to his surgical procedure, Heart Center staff also talked with Daniel about what a heart-healthy diet consists of and the importance of daily exercise in maintaining a healthy lifestyle once he returned home.

“Both of my parents underwent bypass surgery during their lifetime and I knew there was a significant risk for heart issues in my family,” he said. “I’ve lost 40 pounds since the accident and am more focused on eating healthy. My wife and I also walk together on a regular basis.”

“I feel like I’m finally getting back to my normal self,” said Daniel. “Many people were also surprised at how fast I was able to return to work. I have my care team at Lakeland to thank in a lot of ways for that.”  

Are you at risk for heart disease?

Visit www.lakelandhealth.org/heartsafe to complete a free online questionnaire. You will receive an immediate score and information to help evaluate your present condition as well as steps you can take to lower your risk.

  

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