Part II of a Special Guest Series by Steve Irigoyen, a You’re the Cure Advocate who’s an 9-time heart attack survivor and 2-time stroke survivor
After the paramedics arrived and found me on the garage floor, they asked me “on a scale of 1-10 what’s your pain level?” and I replied “10+”! With a 1-2-3 I was loaded on a gurney and hoisted into the ambulance by strong Paramedics and EMTs. I’d never been in an ambulance before, and it was a rush. I could feel us speeding along, and quick hands attached EKG leads on my chest. They gave me three nitros, which didn’t work at all, and then gave me morphine, which barely seemed to dull the pain. Sirens were blaring and lights were flashing. I winced, realizing that things were actually be pretty bad.
Once I arrived at the hospital, I was quickly unloaded in the emergency room and seen immediately for treatment. Cardiologists discovered two main arteries were blocked – one at 98%, and the other at 95%. My Mom and Dad arrived, and I felt myself slipping away and could barely speak. “Mom, Dad, I’m so sorry but I’ve gotta go. But don’t worry I’ll be by your side every day.”
They were sobbing, and my Mom pleaded, “No! No Steve we need you to stay with us!”
Consciousness started to drift away and I closed my eyes. My parents watched my lips turn blue and thought I was dead. A Cardiologist zipped in and explained, “We’re taking him in for an angioplasty. Don’t worry – he still has a chance! Hold tight!” and wheeled me away.
When I regained consciousness, I realized I felt immediately 100% better. What a difference! I WAS ALIVE!!! Two stents were placed in my arteries, providing access to critical blood flow. Two days later I was discharged and went to my parent’s house for a little extra care.
Those two stents saved my life. Since my first heart attack, I discovered that the American Heart Association has funded lifesaving research – including important developments in stents – that saved me. Years ago, I wouldn’t have had a chance at survival, and would have made good on my promise to my parents that I’d be by their sides in spirit. Thankfully, I am alive and am grateful to be an advocate for research.
In addition to the lifesaving research of the American Heart Association – the National Institutes of Health research has provided critical advances in cardiac care. Sadly, NIH continues to be woefully underfunded. Heart disease and stroke remain our Nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers, respectively, but NIH invests only 4% of its budget on heart research and a mere 1% on stroke research. Join me to advocate for research – and help improve the future of cardiovascular disease and stroke treatment. Visit www.rallyformedicalresearch.org to learn more about our call on Capitol Hill and find out how to be further involved.