Jon Klein doesn’t remember a lot about the evening of July 6. Much of what the 54-year-old Cedar Rapids man shares about that night are details from his wife Lisa. The high school sweethearts have been married 31 years. It was a night that could have had a different ending if he hadn’t gone to St. Luke’s when he did.
“I remember waking up and just looking at the grid of the white ceiling tile,” said Klein. “I had no recollection of where I was or how I got there. I remember seeing faces and I didn’t know any of them and I saw Lisa and started connecting the dots. Everyone was so kind and good to me and they explained what happened. I had a 99 percent blockage in one of my heart arteries. My heart had just been shocked back into a normal rhythm, and I was on my way to have a procedure to open my blocked heart artery.”
Klein arrived at UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital ER
a short time before his cardiac arrest.
“Earlier I had gone to bed and suddenly started not feeling well,” explained Klein. “Initially I thought I had acid reflux or something like that. I felt some pressure on my chest and so I sat up, had some water and took some Tums and aspirin. It kept getting worse and I felt sick to my stomach. The pressure kept building in my chest area and then my left arm started hurting. I knew immediately those are the symptoms of a heart attack.”
“Everyone can present differently when it comes to a heart attack,” said Gregory Blythe, DO, St. Luke’s ER physician. “The classic signs are the chest pressure that can radiate up to the shoulders mainly up the left arm, but it can go into both sides or up to the jaw. Shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, oftentimes people get clammy and sweaty, but you don’t have to have all those symptoms. The symptoms can be subtle.”
St. Luke’s ER is an accredited Chest Pain Center and provides fast heart attack care, the fastest reported time to open a heart blockage in 2019 is 22 minutes, 90 minutes or less is the national standard.
“Time is heart muscle,” said Dr. Blythe. “It’s important to get to the hospital as soon as possible if a heart attack is suspected. When Jon arrived, our team moved quickly to get him up to the heart catheterization lab to open his blocked artery. The longer you wait, the more heart cells die. It also increases the chances for a life-threatening heart rhythm, which can lead to cardiac arrest like what happened to Jon. He was fortunate to be at St. Luke’s when it happened and we were able to shock his heart back into normal rhythm, stabilize Jon and send him to the heart catheterization lab to have Dr. Ankur Vyas, a St. Luke’s cardiologist, open his blocked artery.”
Klein is finishing up cardiac rehab and the father of four is looking forward to spending a lot more time with Lisa and his family in the days ahead.
“I certainly have a lot to thank God for,” said Klein. “I am so grateful to have another chance at life and thankful for all the doctors and nurses at St. Luke’s,” said Klein. “I am amazed at the talent, skill and caring. These people are saving lives and making a difference every single day.”
If you suspect you are having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 and go directly to St. Luke’s ER. To learn more about the signs of a heart attack, visit bit.ly/AttackSigns