“I Wanted to Live”

Man Survives Heart Attack, Receives Life-Saving Treatment at Parkwest

In summer 2022, Roger Jones experienced periodic episodes of chest pain and shortness of breath. His health quickly declined, leading him to seek treatment at Parkwest Medical Center. After 44 days in the cardiovascular intensive care unit and many hurdles in his healing journey, Jones was able to go home in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. Now, six months later, he is feeling great.

Hidden Heart Attack

“I felt lethargic and had trouble breathing,” Jones recalls. In September, diagnostic tests revealed he had suffered a heart attack sometime in the prior months. The shortness-of-breath episodes were a result of the heart not being able to pump enough blood and oxygen to the rest of his body and beating very fast to work overtime.

He was in heart failure when he arrived at Parkwest Medical Center, where he was stabilized and admitted to the cardiovascular ICU.

At Parkwest

At Parkwest Medical Center, Jones received a heart pump and underwent several different cardiac procedures. Each time his care team was there to support him.

Jones is beyond thankful for the caring team who helped him through a difficult crisis. He says at one point, he didn’t think he would live to see the outside of the hospital.

“I was scared and didn’t know what would happen. I got down and depressed at one point,” he says. “But I’m a strong-willed person, and if they told me I had a chance, I knew I had to hang in there. I wanted to live.”

Jones leaned on his team of caregivers at Parkwest and on his faith in God to get him through many challenges.

A Well-Rounded Team

Sara Negrotto, MD,
interventional cardiologist

His team included cardiologists, critical care nurses, cardiovascular surgeons, a nephrologist and a pulmonary critical care doctor. Jones says, “Everyone there was just great to me – from the doctor to the nurses and the janitor. Everyone I interacted with was so kind, just like family.”

He was treated by interventional cardiologist Sara Negrotto, MD, whom Jones says saved his life.

“My philosophy with patient care is to do everything I can to give people the best chance of survival. We are so blessed at Parkwest with a highly experienced cardiac team that enables us to take care of a diverse and sick cardiac population successfully,” Dr. Negrotto says.

“Roger did really well. At first, he was very sick. The heart pump allowed the heart to rest while his other organs healed after not getting enough blood supply. In a few weeks, he was up and walking around the halls of the ICU.”

Caring for complex cases like this is a team effort, she says. “So many people were involved in his care and were making adjustments around the clock. It’s important that we change course as the patient’s treatment plan and recovery progresses based on the patient’s needs. Sometimes we just need to be patient and give ourselves time to heal.”

Zach Adams, RN, CCRN, critical care supervisor, recalls, “The look on his face before his outing versus after was a complete turnaround. I do believe this helped him get better and made a difference in his care.”

Another key element in his recovery, Adams says, was having the right people in place at the moment Jones needed them. “Every time he was in a crisis I was there, or his nurse practitioner, Amanda Underwood, NP-C, was present. Any time he had a setback, we could pivot and treat him effectively. We intervened quickly to get back to where he needed to be.”

Compassionate Caregivers

“When I first started all this, I didn’t have any hope,” Jones says. “The team here gave me hope, strength and perseverance to keep going. I give the credit to the doctors and nurses helping me get to that point, where I thought I could live.”

In addition to the medical care that saved his life, Jones says it was the way he was treated that made a difference. “They’d come wash my hair or visit me and check on me. When I had to get the ablation [a procedure that restores normal heart rhythm], I was scared. One nurse, she went with me. I was lying on the table, getting all those sticky wire monitors put on me. I was in tears. But I looked over at my nurse standing over me and made eye contact – she smiled, and it gave me so much peace that everything would be OK.”


He went home from the hospital the day before Thanksgiving, but full healing was a long way away.

Jones began attending cardiac rehabilitation, a program for people who have had surgery or suffered a heart event. He was very weak when he began, but he built strength and stamina by walking on a treadmill, riding a stationary bike and attending education classes about diet and cooking.

“I feel great!” Jones says. “From what I went through to where I am now is amazing.” He is now back to mowing his yard, picking up tree limbs and walking his dogs. His grandchildren live nearby and come to play in his yard. He plans to spend as much time outdoors as possible and once he’s cleared to drive again, he hopes to return to work.

Jones says the compassionate attitude and unwavering support from the care team is one of the biggest things that helped him through this experience.

“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world when this happened to me,” he says. “They took care of me, and I love each and every one of them.”

What is a heart pump?

A heart pump is a device that helps pump blood from the lower chambers of your heart (ventricles) to the rest of your body.

The Impella is a type of heart pump that pulls blood from the ventricle and pushes it out into the aorta, delivering oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body. This allows the heart to rest while the doctor performs a procedure called a PCI.

Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) refers to a family of minimally invasive procedures used to open clogged coronary arteries, which deliver blood to the heart. By restoring blood flow, the treatment can improve symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath. Once the PCI procedure is complete, the Impella is turned off and guided out.

What are the symptoms of a heart attack?

A heart attack can happen to anyone, but certain factors can increase your risk. Some of these factors can’t be changed.
Others may be managed through lifestyle changes and medical care.
Each person may have slightly different symptoms of a heart attack. But these are the most common symptoms:

  • Severe pressure, fullness, squeezing, pain or discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes
  • Pain or discomfort that spreads to the shoulders, neck, arms or jaw
  • Chest pain that gets worse with exertion
  • Chest pain that doesn’t get better with rest or by taking nitroglycerin
  • Chest pain that happens along with any of these symptoms:

• Sweating
• Cool, clammy skin or paleness
• Shortness of breath
• Nausea or vomiting
• Dizziness or fainting
• Unexplained weakness or fatigue
• Fast or irregular pulse

Chest pain is the key warning sign of a heart attack, but it may be confused with other conditions. These include heartburn, pleurisy and pneumonia. Always call 911 for emergency care to diagnose the problem.


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