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Heart stories are different but all somewhat alike

Upstate Heart Walk brings thousands to City Park

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Saturday, April 14, 2012

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Ronnie Poore remembers looking

Ronnie Poore remembers looking "at the world backwards from the inside of an ambulance speeding to the hospital for a heart procedure. His wife, Lisa, shared his story today.



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Ken Higgins recalled a blood test for an enzyme told doctors he was having a heart attack when an EKG didn't. Higgins and Peggy Luther, of the Compass Group, participated in today's Heart Walk food exhibitions.

Ken Higgins recalled a blood test for an enzyme told doctors he was having a heart attack when an EKG didn't. Higgins and Peggy Luther, of the Compass Group, participated in today's Heart Walk food exhibitions.



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Dylan Long's surgery for open heart surgery in Charleston was the same night Hurricane Charlie came ashore. Kelly Long, his mother, and his grandmother, Carol Cason were on hand for today's Upstate Heart Wak at City Park.

Dylan Long's surgery for open heart surgery in Charleston was the same night Hurricane Charlie came ashore. Kelly Long, his mother, and his grandmother, Carol Cason were on hand for today's Upstate Heart Wak at City Park.



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Buddy The Bear was busy making new friends at the Carolina Cardiology tent.

Buddy The Bear was busy making new friends at the Carolina Cardiology tent.



Every heart survivor has a mental baseball card of facts and statistics.

They can tell you the date of their heart event, the hospital the procedure was done, how many stents or bypasses were performed, the percentage of the blockage of arteries, the length of their hospital stay and the days of their rehabilitation before they returned to work.

Today’s Upstate Heart Walk at Greer City Park was a reminder how deadly the disease is and the improved chances for recovery and longer lives with a healthier lifestyle. Statistically, the American Heart Association ranks heart disease as the No. 2 killer and stroke No. 3, respectively, in the United States.

“Each story is different but they are a little alike,” said Dr. Arthur Eberly, part of Carolina Cardiology, a member of the Greenville Hospital System.

Survivors who had surgery to repair blockages remembered the euphoric feeling, while undergoing surgery, of blood rushing back through the unclogged artery. “We tell the patients once we get you upstairs (in surgery) you will feel better.”

Here are three stories of heart survivors who participated in today’s walk.

Ronnie Poore

 There’s little enthusiasm in Ronnie Poore’s voice when he reflects on the doctors’ term for his heart condition before surgery – “the widow maker”.

A widow maker blockage of the left anterior coronary artery has all the signs of a standard heart attack and the same cause – myocardial blockage. The severity and location of the blockage is its deadly trademark. A stent is inserted pushing the arterial blockage against the arterial wall allowing blood flow to resume.

Poore, a FOX Carolina producer, said he remembered having what he thought was bad indigestion a day earlier. His memory is vivid because Super Bowl XLIV was held with the New Orleans Saints beating the Indianapolis Colts.

Feb. 8, 2010 was when Poore had a stent inserted that saved him from being another widow maker casualty.

The warning signs Poore observed the day before were the typical feelings of severe indigestion and pressure in his chest. “I thought it was bad indigestion because of the crappy food I ate the day before,” Poore said.

Poore walked his dog the morning of his event and drove himself to a doctor’s care facility where an EKG didn’t record a heart attack. “They said something didn’t feel right so they called EMS and I was taken quickly to Greenville Hospital. They gave me another EKG on the way and said, ‘sir you are having a heart attack.’ I was looking at the world backwards speeding to the hospital,” Poorer said.

Poorer said he was rushed to the operating room and put on the table for immediate surgery. “I remember them saying they were going to fix me right up. When the stent went in it was like euphoria. My body felt great at the time but the next day I was so tired I couldn’t take but a few steps.”

Poore was released after five days, underwent rehab at the Greenville Memorial Hospital Life Center and has maintained a strict diet and exercise regimen. “I lost 80 pounds and have not regained the weight. I told myself that I was going to eat what they suggested and then eat even better. When they told me to maintain an exercise program I did more.”

Poore is part of a blind study for a new drug that is expected to lower bad cholesterol by raising the good cholesterol. He is also a volunteer for the Life Center.

“Feb. 8 is my new Valentine’s Day,” Poore said.

Ken Higgins

 The date – June 16, 2001 – comes first out of Ken Higgins’ mouth. Then he said, “three stents and 97 percent blockage. I was 57 years old, spent three days in the hospital. My dad died of a heart attack at age 48.”

Higgins said he had not missed a day of work in 25 years. “I was one of  those people who never got sick,” Higgins said. The pressure he felt in his chest was getting stronger and by mid-afternoon told Peggy Luther, an associate, he was not feeing well. “I told him to leave and see a doctor,” Luther said.

“The day before I had felt pressure in my chest and sat in a chair for about an hour and 15 minutes. I was thinking it was reflux. There were thunderstorms that day and I went to bed early, figuring if it was going to be dark and since I wasn’t feeling well, I might as well lay down,” Higgins said.

Higgins, still feeling pressure in his chest the next day, drove himself to his doctor and was given an EKG. It did not show signs of Higgins having a heart attack. “I went to the Greenville Memorial Heart Institute and was given a stress test and again nothing showed up. The doctor said he was going to give me a blood test to see if a certain enzyme was present it would indicate the presences of a heart attack.”

The enzyme did appear in the test and he was prepped for surgery. “I had three stents with those arteries showing 97 percent blockage,” Higgins said.

Higgins is doing well today and continues as a food service director for District 7 school district.

Dylan Long

 Dylan Long was 7-years-old when he had open-heart surgery to repair a hole found that threatened his life. His grandmother, Carol Cason, a nurse had undergone surgery following a heart attack.

Dylan was taken to Charleston for surgery performed on Aug. 12, 2004. Ironically that was the day Hurricane Charlie smashed into Charleston with wind and rain that caused widespread flooding.

Dylan, the son of Kelly Long, Greer’s TD Bank branch manager, had 13 family members and friends in his room the night of the hurricane. Doctors and nurses feared the visitors wouldn’t be able to get back to their hotel. “The TV was on all night and Dylan’s eyes were glued to it. We shared the same bed because Dylan was afraid to go to sleep with the thunder and lightning from the storm,” Kelly said.

Dylan was a picture of health today as he was playing games at the TD Bank tent before the walk began.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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