Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States, claiming approximately 1 million lives per year. Heart attacks alone strike someone every 43 seconds. On January 20, 2014, that someone was Preston Anderson, a former stand-out Duke football player and otherwise active, healthy individual.
AN ORDINARY DAY
It started off as any other ordinary day for Preston Anderson, visiting a local gym for his daily workout. After 20 minutes on the elliptical machine, Preston suddenly felt intense pressure in his chest. “I’ll never forget the time. It was 20 minutes and 23 seconds, and I felt this immense pressure. I decided to work through it, but the pressure became greater. I thought to myself, ‘What is going on here?’”
In the far recesses of Preston’s mind he thought he might be having a heart attack, but that was a thought he tried to ignore. Preston ended his workout and drove a short distance home to see if his condition improved. After returning home however, the pressure turned to pain so he dialed 9-1-1. “I felt cold and clammy, and by that time, I was certain that I was having some sort of heart event,” he says. “I was scared, very scared.”
Preston was transported to the hospital after medical professionals confirmed that he was indeed having a heart attack, and upon arrival, doctors transferred him to the catheter lab to locate and clear any blockages in his arteries. The doctors performed a coronary angioplasty to relieve the blockages and ease the pressure on his heart.
MINIMALLY-INVASIVE TREATMENT WITH NOVEL MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY
A person’s arteries in the heart can sometimes become blocked or narrowed from a buildup of cholesterol, cells or other substances, usually referred to as plaque. This can reduce blood flow to one’s heart and cause chest discomfort in the form of pressure or pain, similar to what Preston experienced. Sometimes a blood clot can suddenly form or get worse and completely block blood flow, leading to a heart attack.
An angioplasty opens blocked arteries and restores normal blood flow to a person’s heart muscle. The procedure entails threading a catheter through a small puncture in a leg or arm artery to the heart. The blocked artery is opened by inflating a tiny balloon inside the artery and a stent is put in place. Once the stent is in place and the blood flow returns to normal, the balloon is deflated and the catheter is removed. This procedure, once a highly-invasive “open heart” surgery is now minimally-invasive, thanks in part due to the novel medical technologies that are now standard practice.
Preston’s surgery was a success and after two days in the hospital, he returned home feeling better than he had in months. He began cardio rehabilitation to strengthen his heart and his body. “I am so thankful for the innovative medical technology that saved my life,” he says. “Because of it, I am able to return to my full and active life. It is a second chance that I am so grateful to have.”