The Challenge: Blocked Arteries and Cardiac Arrest
Jim Julian owns a deli and has always been very active. When his cough and chest congestion wouldn’t go away, his doctor suggested a stress test.
Because of a minor concern during the routine stress test, Jim’s doctor ordered a more intensive nuclear stress test at UPMC Mercy.
When Jim stepped on the treadmill for the exercise part of the test, he had no idea of the drama that followed.
“The next thing I knew, I was on the ground. Luckily my nurse, Colleen, caught me before I fell,” said Jim.
He’d gone into cardiac arrest, which happens when the heart stops beating and blood can’t flow throughout the body.
Without immediate treatment, cardiac arrest is fatal.
The Path to UPMC for Heart Care
Jim’s care team used CPR and an automated external defibrillator to get his heart beating again.
Once Jim stabilized, they sent him for a transradial heart catheterization right away. During a transradial heart cath, doctors use an artery in the arm as an access point to find blocked arteries.
It was then that his cardiologist, Christopher Wentz, MD, found Jim had three blocked arteries in his heart.
With no time to lose, Jim went into surgery.
The Solution: Heart Surgery and Cardiac Rehabilitation
Claudio Lima, MD, a heart surgeon, performed a triple bypass to restore blood flow to Jim’s heart muscle.
After four and a half days in the hospital, Jim went home. He had to adapt to some changes, like not being able to drive.
“It was hard to rely on rides from others for 40 days,” he said.
But, Jim recognized how crucial it was to follow doctor’s orders post-surgery.
Jim enrolled in cardiac rehab three times a week at the UPMC Mercy Outpatient Center at Green Tree in late August.
Ambitious to recover and gain his strength back, he decided to keep going to rehab. He now goes on his own five days a week, where he spends at least 30 minutes exercising.
“Rehab has been most rewarding,” he said. “Every aspect: mentally, physically, and emotionally. I get the support I need and answers about any symptoms I might feel. I have no intention of ever stopping my efforts to get better. I feel great.”
As a person who has always been active, Jim says he's now feeling back to his old self. And he's getting back to making exercise a part of his daily routine.
He has follow-up visits with Dr. Wentz once a year.
Reflecting back on his journey he overcame, Jim says he’s thankful for the tremendous staff at UPMC Mercy for saving his life.
Jim's treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.
Learn More About Heart Disease
UPMC HealthBeat Blog
- The Difference Between Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest
- 6 Tips to Help You Make the Most of Cardiac Rehab
- Cardiac Rehab FAQs
UPMC Health Library