Heart Attack

When he had a heart attack, Tom Jones felt like he was re-living a nightmare. That’s because when Tom was just 12, his own father suffered a fatal heart attack.

Now, at 45, Tom himself was the parent of a young son. When he woke up sweating profusely and feeling unwell, he had a heavy pain in the center of his chest that spread to his arms when he got out of bed. He knew he needed to get to a hospital. His quick-thinking wife, Rhonda, gave him an aspirin.

At the local emergency room, Tom waited for the news.

“Laying on the gurney, I was hanging onto the hope that it wasn’t a heart attack,” he says.

The doctor told him otherwise.

“I was absolutely in shock,” says Tom. “My son was only 18 months old. If something happened to me, he wouldn’t even have memories of me.”

Know the Symptoms

Tom and his wife, Rhonda, discuss the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

We have a future to look forward to

Tom and his wife, Rhonda, describe their lives after Tom's heart attack.

You're having a heart attack

Tom shares his story of the night he had his heart attack.

The treatment undoubtedly saved my life

Tom talks about his experience at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

I thought, "It won't happen to me."

Tom stresses the importance of knowing your family's medical history.

A new chance to be a husband and father

In the middle of the night, Tom was transported by ambulance from his hometown of Marysville, Ohio, to Ohio State’s Ross Heart Hospital, where doctors were waiting for him in the cardiac catheterization lab.

“As much pain as I was in, I felt a sense of relief,” says Tom. “Everybody was gracious, professional and compassionate. I knew I was in good hands. The treatment I received undoubtedly saved my life.”

The team of specialists inserted a catheter into an artery in his groin and advanced the tube to his heart. They injected a contrast solution (dye) into his arteries and used X-rays to look for blockages. This revealed 100 percent blockage in one artery and 85 percent blockage in another. The cardiac catheterization team performed coronary angioplasty (a minimally invasive procedure) to remove the clots causing the blockage and then placed two stents in the blocked arteries to restore blood flow to the heart muscle.

Thanks to the care he received, Tom has a new chance to be a husband and father.

The heart attack that killed my father did not kill me

“A common bond that me and my dad had was the love of baseball,” he says. ”I hadn’t had a chance to bond with my son that way. I’m going to have a chance to see my little boy grow up. We recently took Ethan to his first professional baseball game. It’s an experience he won’t remember, but we will.

“I’m very fortunate,” he says. “The heart attack that killed my father did not kill me. I feel as good as I ever have in my life.”

Know your history, know your symptoms

Tom says perhaps he accessed care so quickly when symptoms occurred because he was aware of his family history of heart disease. “I can be stubborn about a lot of things,” he says. “Thank God I wasn’t stubborn about this. If you don’t know your family history of heart disease, find out. If you have a family history of heart disease, take care of yourself and know the symptoms of a heart attack.”

Knowing his family history, Tom took good care of himself – exercising, eating a healthy diet and not smoking. “In the days leading up to the heart attack, I’d been to the gym, been on a run and played a nine-inning baseball game,” says Tom.

Tom is grateful he didn’t take his health for granted and acted when he didn’t feel well. “I think about how hard it would have been for Rhonda, and for Ethan to grow up without a father,” he says.

Rhonda says everything is getting back to normal. “It’s important to know what to do (if symptoms of a heart attack occur). We have a future to look forward to,” she says. “We might not have otherwise.”

Why choose Ohio State for heart attack treatment?

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is a leader in heart attack care. Our heart attack team provides lifesaving treatment immediately after a heart attack patient’s arrival at The Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital. This rapid response, available 24 hours a day, is due to close collaboration between the Medical Center and regional emergency medical service (EMS) units.

Once a heart attack patient is onsite, we follow national guidelines to provide the best possible outcomes. Our cardiovascular specialists care for patients who require cardiac interventions, such as open-heart surgery and minimally invasive heart procedures.

Ohio State’s Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital is recognized as an Accredited Chest Pain Center by The Society of Chest Pain Centers. Hospitals that achieve this accreditation demonstrate a higher level of expertise with patients who arrive with heart attack symptoms. Accredited Chest Pain Centers undergo a rigorous evaluation in the process of accreditation.

Ohio State’s Ross Heart Hospital also is a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services leader in heart attack survival rates, demonstrating the expertise necessary to help patients recover quickly and with fewer complications.

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