Before he wound up in an emergency room around 2 a.m. back on May 10, Eric Hogue dismissed any warning that something wasn't quite right.
"I remember having to stop, and I was out of breath. And I thought, my allergies must be really bad,” said Hogue.
Without the crushing chest or arm pain so often associated with cardiac arrest, the former Wylie mayor didn't even think about his heart.
He went on for a couple of weeks, thinking perhaps asthma was to blame. And it wasn’t until he left bed one night, to try to sleep sitting up, that he mentioned his gums had also begun to ache, and his wife stepped in to rush him to the Baylor Scott and White Emergency Center near their home in Wylie.
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"He said, ‘We're going to do some blood work. We're going to do another EKG.’ And he does and he says, ‘You've had a heart attack,” recalled Hogue. "They were figuring out, 'are we going to CareFlite him? Are we going to take him by ambulance? How can we get into the hospital the fastest?'”
In the middle of the night, Hogue said they decided an ambulance to Baylor Scott and White Medical Center Lake Point was his best chance.
There, Hogue was seen by Dr. Anthony Yoon in the hospital’s new cath lab where he learned his widow maker artery was 95% blocked.
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“We call it the widow maker because it's the most important artery to have open in your heart. And if you do have a massive heart attack from that artery, your heart can become very, very weak, and that's a very big problem to have,” said Yoon.
Like Hogue, Yoon said patients often overlook symptoms they don’t associate with heart attacks.
“A lot of people can get just jaw pain. Some people can just get nausea, and they start vomiting a lot. Shortness of breath is a big indicator, you know, just being acutely short of breath suddenly, for no reason. A lot of people discount those things. Acid reflux symptoms cross a lot with heart disease, so it can be very complex to figure out who actually is having a heart issue at times,” said Yoon.
He added, they can all be indicators that intervention is needed immediately.
"This is just all about timing, getting better blood flow to the heart muscle. Unfortunately, heart muscle doesn't grow back like hair. So, once it's damaged, it's permanent. So, the faster you can reestablish blood flow, the better your heart does,” he said.
Meaning for Hogue, minutes may have mattered.
"If Tammie had not said at 1:30 in the morning, ‘We're going to the hospital, we're going to the emergency room,’ I don't know where I would be at this point in time,” he said.
Hogue serves as the chair of Lake Point’s advisory board. He said he never imagined he’d find himself on the receiving end of the hospital’s care.