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More Than Just Heart Burn - Rusty Schrubba


Mar, 2019

Physicians: Jerome Kuhnlein, MD

After losing both his 52-year-old father and 71-year-old grandfather to heart attacks, Rusty Schrubba was all too aware that he could be at risk for the same fate.

At 60, Rusty maintained an active and healthy lifestyle, working as a St. Joseph firefighter for 34 years.

However, one winter night, following a large dinner with family, Rusty went to bed only to be woken up with what he thought was severe heart burn. To relieve the pain, he drank a glass of water and tried relaxing on the couch before falling back to sleep. He was woken up again with the same nagging pain. He took two baby aspirins and got ready for work. Still not feeling well, Rusty stopped at the drugstore for some antacids on the way to the fire station.

It wasn’t until later that afternoon a fellow firefighter suggested they call an ambulance to assess his heath. Rusty was taken to Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph to be evaluated. Upon arriving to the emergency department, the medical staff stepped into immediate action.

“Everyone swarmed to help me, I thought ‘oh boy, here we go!’” said Rusty. “I wasn’t worried though. They’re the professionals and they knew what they were doing.”

“I had heard a lot of good things about Lakeland,” said Rusty. “I knew I was going to a great facility. I didn’t have to go to Kalamazoo or Grand Rapids or any big city. I knew Lakeland was going to do the job right and take care of me.”

His care team was led by cardiologist Jerome Kuhnlein, MD. Following the results of his bloodwork, Dr. Kuhnlein confirmed Rusty had suffered a minor heart attack and would need a stent, a small, mesh-like device made of metal placed in his artery to allow blood to flow more freely.

“Dr. Kuhnlein was great,” said Rusty. “He told me exactly what was going to happen, where the blockage was and how the stent was going to work.”

Rusty learned his pain was caused from a blockage in his circumflex artery, which is behind the heart, so fortunately there was no major heart damage.

“It was a relief for me and my family,” he said. “At that time, I knew I was going to be fine.”

Rusty’s words of advice to anyone with questionable pain, “If you feel like it could be a heart attack, even just the possibility, go get it checked out.”

Now retired from the fire department, Rusty continues to maintain an active lifestyle. He joined Renaissance Athletic Club where his daughter is his personal trainer. He keeps his workouts focused around strengthening his heart muscles.

“I also do a lot of walking,” said Rusty. “I walk on the treadmill and in the summertime, I like walking downtown in St. Joseph. I feel great and am so thankful I had a phenomenal care team to get me back on my feet after my heart attack."


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