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1795 Highway 64 East
Anamosa, IA 52205

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Cedar Rapids, IA 52402

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1940 Blairs Ferry Rd.
Hiawatha, IA 52233

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Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

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Don't ignore heart attack warning signs: Dion's story

by -

Dion Hake

At 61, Dion Hake wanted to devote more time to his health. For nearly 20 years, the Marion man was a regional sales manager and was driving about 70,000 miles a year. He retired in April 2019 with a renewed focus on his health and wellness.

“On one of our first nice days, June 2, I decided to go for a jog that morning,” recalls Dion. “I ran about two miles and felt good. I took a brief break and decided I would hit the bike trail and go for a ride.”

Dion traveled a couple of miles and was making the return trip home when he started experiencing numbness in his hands, which he initially attributed to the prolonged placement on the bike handlebars.

“Then I started to feel a dull ache in my left arm, which started radiating upward,” remembers Dion. “Gradually I started to feel pain in my chest and back, then I had shortness of breath. All of these symptoms began to intensify, and I started to worry because I didn’t have my cell phone with me.”

Dion eventually had to get off his bike and walk until the symptoms got so bad, he couldn’t continue.
“I had to stop,” explains Dion. “I was really having trouble breathing. I waited for someone to come by. I flagged a guy down and told him I thought I was having a heart attack. He called 9-1-1. I was thankful he was there. An ambulance came and the paramedics quickly determined I was having a heart attack.”

Heart attack

It’s a nationwide goal for ERs to open blocked heart arteries in 90 minutes or less. It’s called door-to-balloon time. Last year St. Luke’s average was 57 minutes and its fastest time was 15 minutes.

Cardiologist Richard Kettelkamp, DO, from UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Cardiology was working at St. Luke’s that day. Dion went quickly from St. Luke’s ER to the heart catheterization lab where Dr. Kettelkamp removed a clot from Dion’s artery and placed a stent in 46 minutes.

“Dion had an occluded proximal left anterior descending (LAD) artery,” states Dr. Kettelkamp. “The artery in the front part of the heart that some people refer to as the ‘widowmaker.’ Immediate treatment for this blockage saves lives.”

“By the time I received a call about Dion and arrived at St. Luke’s ER he was done with his procedure,” recalls Lana Hake, Dion’s wife. “It was that quick. I was amazed at how fast it all happened.”

“I immediately started to feel better after Dr. Kettelkamp removed the clot and placed the stent,” says Dion. “I don’t know how much time you have when you have a blockage like that. I don’t think I had a whole lot longer. I owe my life to the actions of a kind stranger who helped me, the paramedics, Dr. Kettelkamp and the St. Luke’s team that took such good care of me.”


Dion stayed one night at St. Luke’s and followed up with several weeks of cardiac rehab.
“I was back to jogging on the treadmill towards the end of cardiac rehab,” shares Dion. “That was a huge accomplishment in my mind, to be able to do that again. That was a big day for me.”

“It’s not uncommon for something like this to happen,” explains Dr. Kettelkamp. “It really comes up when patients haven’t been regularly exercising. That physical activity can put you at risk for what we call potential unstable coronary plaque. That’s what happened to Dion. There was some underlying blockage from plaque that manifested when he was exercising, preventing his heart from working properly. If someone hasn’t exercised in a while – it’s a good idea to check in with their family health provider first.”

“Looking back, I admit I had some heart attack signs a couple of weeks prior to my heart attack, which I ignored,” shares Dion. “Don’t ignore those symptoms. Be aware of anything you feel isn’t normal. I am now trying to get my lifestyle more conducive to better health, eating better and exercising. I want to see my grandkids grow up.”

The faster your heart attack is treated, the less damage your heart experiences and the better outcome you can expect from treatment. When it matters most — choose the area’s heart hospital for emergency care.

KNOW the signs of a heart attack

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. This can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath. This often comes along with chest discomfort, but it can also occur before chest discomfort.
  • Other symptoms may include breaking out in a cold sweat, feeling weak, nauseous or lightheaded.
Cedar Rapids’ Heart Hospital
  • St. Luke’s has earned the Chest Pain Center Accreditation with primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) and Resuscitation from the American College of Cardiology based on rigorous onsite evaluation of the staff’s ability to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who may be experiencing a heart attack. St. Luke’s is the first hospital in Iowa to achieve this accreditation.