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When Minutes Mattered

At 66 years old, Roger Beeson is in great shape. He exercises frequently, uses a Bowflex and a stationary bike and is active in a local bicycle club, frequently biking 30 to 40 miles at a time. So on the morning of Friday, Feb. 20, Roger was following his ordinary workout routine.

But the events that transpired later that morning were anything but ordinary.

As Roger was exercising, he began to feel something different. While at first he tried to dismiss it as indigestion, he knew that something was wrong and dialed 911.

When Roger arrived at Community Hospital Anderson, he was immediately evaluated and streamlined to a patient room.

"When patients come in with chest pain, they are rapidly assessed and brought back," says Lori Wilson, a registered nurse who cared for Roger that morning. "Chest pain is always treated seriously."

Community Anderson's emergency team sprung into action, following their standard chest pain protocol-including putting the patient on a heart monitor, applying oxygen, starting an IV and ordering the appropriate lab work.

As Roger was being treated, Kirk Hofmann, M.D., contacted Community Anderson's cardiologists for consultation. Within minutes, Michael Robertson, M.D., cardiologist, was at Roger's bedside in the emergency department.

"I remember looking up at the doctor and he said, 'you're having a heart attack,'" Roger said. "And I just prayed. The next thing I knew, they were running me to the (cath lab) area."

Once the diagnosis of heart attack is confirmed, it's essential to begin treatment to restore the blood flow to the heart as soon as possible. For Roger, this meant an immediate trip to Community Anderson's interventional radiology suite.

"The emergency department staff did everything right," Dr. Robertson said. "They really got him stabilized and transported quickly. If we hadn't gotten to work on him when we did, it could have gone downhill."

Through a catheter placed through the femoral artery, a dye or contrast material is injected into the artery. This dye will show up on an X-ray so that blockages or narrowing of arteries can be identified. If there is a blockage, a doctor can perform a balloon angioplasty or place a stent to reopen the artery and improve blood flow.

In Roger's case, Dr. Robertson was able to correct a fairly large blockage with angioplasty and a stent placement, leaving Roger with no permanent cardiac damage.

He was released from the hospital two days later.

Prior to 2005, Roger's condition would have landed him an ambulance ride to Indianapolis for cardiac intervention. However, with Community Anderson's addition of interventional radiology, he was able to receive his life-saving treatment right here in Madison County. In fact, his door to balloon time was 37 minutes.

"This was one of the great outcomes," Dr. Robertson said.

Heart Attack Warning Signs (American Heart Association)

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness