After an emotional service memorializing her late husband and others who had passed away, Jessie Hood, 81, began experiencing chest pain on the way home. “I thought it was indigestion, and it was stressful to speak about losing my husband,” says Hood. She took antacid tablets when she got home, but the pain stayed with her throughout the night.
“It was about 4:30 in the afternoon when I had another chest pain, and it was severe,” Hood recalls. She texted her children and called 911, who instructed her to chew aspirin and drink water until emergency personnel arrived. “I got sick at my stomach, I vomited, I broke out in a cold says. She was experiencing classic symptoms of a heart attack, and would later learn there was a blockage in the left anterior desending coronary artery, often referred to as a “widow maker” because of the low survival rate.
When the ambulance arrived, Hood was given an EKG. “I could tell when the EMT pulled the paper out of the machine that it was a heart attack. I could tell by the expression on his face.” And she remembers hearing his words of comfort: “We will get you out of here, and get help for you right away.”
At Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, two doctors and other medical staff were waiting to attend to Hood as soon as she arrived by ambulance. “They were waiting for me in the hallway. They stopped me right there and gave me an EKG and two kinds of blood thinner.” Hood recalls that no time was wasted taking the next step. “They ran to the catheterization lab with me,” Hood says. “They were running, and they moved fast.”
It took just 23 minutes – 40 minutes faster than the national average – to get Hood from the entrance of the emergency department to the cath lab with the stent in place. She has no doubt that those minutes made a difference in saving her life and in her recovery. Within days of being released from the hospital, she was enjoying a lunch date with her daughter and returning to church.
Cardiac rehab at Fort Sanders Regional has strengthened her heart and helped renew her spirit. Hood says her heart was broken twice. Her husband’s death broke her heart emotionally. The heart attack broke her heart physically. “But by the grace of God and medical expertise, I’m mending now, and I’m thankful to be alive.”