‘I have a second chance’: Patient reflects on excellent care after surviving ‘widowmaker’ heart attack
Tyron Bennett was doing yard work outside in Chattaroy when he felt a debilitating pain in his chest. He called a family member who immediately told him to hang up and call 911.
He did not know it at the time, but his left anterior descending (LAD) artery was completely blocked. This cardiac event is known to some as a “widowmaker” because it is particularly deadly.
“I remember paramedics asking which hospital I wanted to go to,” Tyron said. “I said, ‘Providence, of course, they are the heart experts.’”
Tyron’s arrival at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center activated a team of Providence Heart Institute specialists, determined to continue the excellent care Tyron had already received by first responders.
Tyron’s heart disease was severe. Not only did he have a family history of heart disease, but he was a lifetime smoker.
Doctors had to clear Tyron’s blocked arteries and place a pump to help stabilize his heart, according to Dr. Andrew Coletti, medical director of Providence Center for Advanced Heart Disease and Transplantation Program.
“We do best as a team,” Dr. Coletti said. “I think if you took one physician, one nurse, one first responder, no one could have done this alone. It was this beautiful orchestra of medical specialists who made this work.
Tyron spent two weeks recovering in the hospital before he was admitted to Providence St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Medical Center for continued care. That is where his cardiac rehabilitation team helped him learn about nutrition, general wellness, and ways to stay active.
Tyron knew he needed to make some big life changes to make the most of his second chance. With the support of his wife, family, and care team -- he is doing just that.
During the first session of cardiac rehabilitation, the St. Luke’s clinical staff meets with the patient 1:1 to go over any concerns, symptoms, and goals that he had for rehab. After this first session, patients transition into group class setting for cardiac rehab. The program is individualized for them where we set their daily exercise prescription based on their limitations and goals. Each week we check in with patients on how their goals are going with exercise, nutrition, emotional health, and other areas. St. Luke’s uses a multidisciplinary approach in the classes with clinical staff having different backgrounds (exercise physiologists, registered dieticians, and respiratory therapists) to help guide them in these areas.
“I’ve changed my whole diet, my whole life, everything I was doing,” Tyron said. “I used to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day, I’m not doing that anymore.”
“The procedural aspect of treating the disease is just one part of it,” Dr. Coletti said. “It’s lifestyle, particularly dealing with his addiction to nicotine. He did particularly well in quitting, and it was, I think, through the ongoing support of our nursing staff, the advanced heart failure program, cardiac rehabilitation, contributing to supporting him.”
“They were perfect in the way they inspired you to go and keep going, to fight. Their inspiration was just awesome,” Tyron said.
Since Tyron’s heart attack, he married the love of his life, quit smoking, and went back to college.
“I got a second chance and I’m going to do the most with it,” Tyron said.
Learn more about Providence Heart Institute online at PSHeart.org.