Jim Sturgeon says he never imagined the discomfort he felt in his chest signaled a far more serious problem.
“I was having sporadic chest pains off and on for a couple of weeks,” he says. “Initially, it started as a pressure in my chest. I had never felt it before, but I didn’t think it was my heart.”
Jim says it wasn’t really a sharp pain, but more of a dull pressure that initially lasted for a few moments. But after the symptoms became more frequent and long-lasting, he decided to seek medical help.
Jim saw nurse practitioner Elizabeth Jernagan during his initial visit at the Marathon Health @ Haynes Health Care Center, which he could access through his employer benefits at Haynes International in Kokomo, Indiana.
“She examined me and said, ‘You need to go and take a stress test,’” Jim says.
Two days later Jim went in for a cardiac ECG test, which involves walking on a treadmill while sensors measure how the heart responds to stress. He says he was on the treadmill for less than a minute before the nurse rushed to get a doctor.
“He looked at the monitors and said, ‘Stop, you need to sit down,’” Jim says. “They gave me nitroglycerin to calm my heart down and then started prepping me to be taken to the cardiology catheter unit to have an emergency procedure performed where they went up through my groin and put three stents in arteries coming out the right side of my heart. The following Tuesday I went back and they put two stents in the left side.”
What Jim didn’t realize is he was on the verge of having a heart attack. He says he’s fortunate Elizabeth immediately recognized his symptoms.
“It was primarily Elizabeth who diagnosed me,” he says. “Who knows if I would have died or had some major problem. I feel very fortunate Elizabeth was there and told me what to do. She very well may have saved my life.”
Jim says the fact that he was able to quickly schedule an appointment at the Marathon Health @ Haynes Health Care Center was another factor.
“I called that morning and got in that afternoon,” he says.
Today, Jim says he’s feeling much better – he’s started exercising regularly and he’s changed his diet. Most importantly, he says his heart wasn’t permanently damaged.
“I’m not ready to run a marathon but having blood flow to all regions of my heart is awesome,” he says. “This was a huge wake-up call. I got in at the right time and hopefully, I now have a new lease on life.”