NextGen Story No. 5,459
Second Time Around
When morning dawned on April 18, 2009, Jesús Arellano had Las Vegas on his mind. But before he could get out the door, Jesús found himself fighting for his life.
The day started routinely enough. As he was waiting for his sister to pick up him and his wife, Jesús was checking off a few pre-trip tasks: watering plants and the grass, taking care of the dog, making sure windows were secure.
Feeling a bit hungry, Jesús went inside and made something to eat. Not long after, he got the sensation of a heartburn coming on.
“There was this burning inside me, like I had eaten chili,” he said. “The only problem was that I hadn’t eaten any chili.”
Soon, the burning sensation turned to all-out pain. It started in his chest then moved to his back. He started sweating. Having had a heart attack three years earlier, Jesús immediately recognized the symptoms.
“I thought, ‘No, this isn’t right,’” he said.
Recalling his cardiologist’s instructions, Jesús retrieved a nitroglycerin tablet and placed it under his tongue. He waited, hoping to feel the pain retreat. In the meantime, he let his wife, Martha, know what was going on and told her to get ready to go to the hospital.
When the first nitroglycerin tablet failed to relieve his pain, Jesús tried another. He waited. The pain persisted. Abandoning all thoughts of Las Vegas, Jesús took a third nitroglycerin tablet, then he and Martha headed toward a nearby emergency room.
Halting the Attack
At the emergency room, the physician on duty made it official: Jesús was having another heart attack. Because the hospital did not have the proper facilities to treat him, the emergency room staff made arrangements for Jesús to be transferred to Methodist Hospital.
Fortunately, an ambulance was right outside, and Jesús was soon on his way. Although he was a little frightened, he was confident that he and Martha had done the right thing by acting quickly after he had begun feeling the symptoms of heart attack.
“In the ambulance, I was thinking that I was very lucky to have all the people there to treat me right away,” Jesús said. “I had confidence that I was going to be OK.”
Jesús counted the minutes as the ambulance sped toward Methodist Hospital. By the time they pulled up at Methodist’s emergency department he had reached 11. The ambulance drivers told him it was record time.
Terrence Baruch, MD, cardiologist and medical director of Methodist Hospital’s catheterization lab, was waiting for Jesús.
“I know what you’re going through,” Jesús recalls Dr. Baruch telling him. “I know what it is. Don’t worry about it; we’re going to fix you up.”
Dr. Baruch confirmed Jesús’s symptoms and sent him directly to the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab. There, Dr. Baruch discovered that Jesús’s artery had clogged up around a stent placed three years earlier, after his first heart attack. Using a technique called angioplasty, Dr. Baruch reopened the artery and placed a new stent, which immediately relieved the pain Jesús was experiencing.
From the moment Jesús arrived in Methodist Hospital’s emergency department to the moment Dr. Baruch re-opened his artery in the cardiac catheterization lab, only 42 minutes had passed. This is well below the 90-minute standard for “door-to-balloon” set by the American College of Cardiology.
Thanks to the quick intervention by Dr. Baruch and the staff at Methodist Hospital, Jesús was discharged from the hospital in just two days with normal heart function. He attributes the fact that he suffered no permanent heart damage to his decision to seek medical treatment immediately and the speed of the care he received at Methodist Hospital.
Back to Life
Jesús’s recovery has been complete. Following his heart attack, he rested for a week then went right back to his work as a self-employed dental technician.
When he’s not working, you can often find Jesús in his home recording studio. He makes Christian music recordings—he sings and plays the guitar and piano—and also invites people from his church and others to use the studio to make their own CDs.
Today, Jesús’s life is much the same as it was before his heart attack, but he has become more conscious of exercising and keeping his heart healthy in other ways. He enjoys walking an hour a day, and he has managed to bring his blood pressure down to an acceptable level.
About a month after his heart attack, Jesús and Martha finally made it to Las Vegas. But Jesús kept his distance from the casinos, opting instead to take in the fresh air and sunshine around the pool.
If you experience any of the symptoms of heart attack, don’t wait! Call 911 immediately.