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St. Luke's Emergency Department

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Jones Regional Medical Center Urgent Care - Anamosa

1795 Highway 64 East
Anamosa, IA 52205

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153 Collins Road Northeast
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Peck's Landing)

1940 Blairs Ferry Rd.
Hiawatha, IA 52233

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Marion

2992 7th Avenue
Marion, IA 52302

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Westside

2375 Edgewood Road Southwest
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

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The Right Place. The Right Team.

by -

Larae Wenzel and Andrea Welter in cardiac rehab

Photo: Larae Wenzel at St. Luke's Cardiac Rehab with Andrea Welter, RN.

As a long-time housekeeper in St. Luke’s Emergency Department, Larae Wenzel never imagined she’d be on the receiving side of that expert heart care she’s witnessed during her nearly 24 years working at the hospital.

“I was in the middle of my shift when I felt pressure in my chest,” explained Wenzel. “I thought it might be gas or acid reflux, so I took a gas tablet. The pain just kept getting worse. I went to the head nurse 
and told her what was going on. She immediately walked me over to triage and it wasn’t long before I was up in the heart catherization lab.” 

“When she approached me with her symptoms, I told her she needed to have it checked out because they sounded like cardiac symptoms,” explained Angie Kramer, St. Luke’s ER nurse supervisor. 
“She was quickly moved from triage to one of our ER rooms where we hooked her up to a heart monitor and started an IV. I asked her if she wanted me to contact anyone and she asked me to get ahold of her children.”

Heart Attack

“Larae was having a heart attack and her blood pressure was high,” shared Subhi Halawa, MD, St. Luke’s Heart Care cardiologist. “She went straight to the cath lab where one of her vessels was  blocked with a large clot and I placed a stent. Some of those clot pieces broke off and went to another vessel downstream and we cleaned it up as well.”

“I was able to get ahold of her son to let him know what was happening and that his mom was okay,” shared Kramer. “I explained what was going on and the plan for his mom. After talking with Larae it became clear her son needed a ride to St. Luke’s. I went and picked him up and we arrived back at the hospital just in time before her procedure."

“Going into the procedure I was scared,” said Wenzel. “I fully expected them to say I was having a heart attack because of the way I was feeling but I thought 'what would happen if I didn't survive? What happens to my kids?' The ER and heart teams all knew what they needed to do for me and they did it well.”

Wenzel immediately noticed a difference after her heart procedure. 

Brand-New Person

"I felt one hundred percent better,” shared Wenzel. “I was like a brand-new person. Looking back in the months leading up to my heart attack, I realize I was experiencing symptoms. I just chalked it up to not sleeping enough and stress. What I felt at work that day was different from what I had previously felt. That day, I felt really deep chest pressure and it went into my ears and jaw.” 

Women’s heart attack symptoms are not always the typical chest pain,” Dr. Halawa explained. “They may not experience that elephant sitting on their chest sensation many people report. Women may have back or jaw pain, shortness of breath, nausea, or lightheadedness. It’s important when they start to experience these symptoms, they need to get to the hospital right away.”

Wenzel is completing cardiac rehabilitation at St. Luke’s three days a week. She’s also returned to working part-time. 

“The ER team is always asking me how I’m doing and making sure I am alright,” shared Wenzel. “I’m thankful this happened when I was working. I would have probably ignored it if I had been at home and I would probably would not have survived. I was at the right place, at the right time.”

If you are experiencing a heart attack, call 911 right away. The faster a heart attack is treated, the less the heart is damaged and the better patient outcome. 

Learn the signs of a heart attack.

$99 Heart Scan
Heart disease can go undetected for years. St. Luke’s Heart Scan identifies calcified plaque in the coronary arteries and assesses heart’s health. There are no injections, treadmills or pre-test fasting. The heart scan is for men and women between the ages of 40 and 70. All  that’s needed is a doctor’s referral.

Call (319)369-8909 for St. Luke’s $99 Heart Scan.