The Problem: Sudden Cardiac Arrest
In June 2018, Paul Glover settled in to watch a pro basketball game after going out for dinner with his girlfriend. The 55-year-old McKeesport resident and Navy vet started feeling like he had indigestion.
“I was laying on the floor watching the game, and I started to feel like I ate too fast,” says Paul.
Around midnight, Paul arrived in the emergency room at UPMC McKeesport, complaining of the increasing chest pain.
Describing the pain as “crushing” and feeling like “impending doom,” the ER team took Paul to the treatment area right away. Within minutes, his heart went into ventricular fibrillation (VFib) — the most life-threatening heart rhythm disturbance, according to the American Heart Association.
During VFib, the lower chambers of the heart quiver and can’t pump any blood, often leading to cardiac arrest. Paul went into cardiac arrest almost right away.
“I sat down on the table [in the exam room], took off my shirt, and I died,” Paul says. “They brought me back to life three times.”
Thankfully, the ER staff acted quickly to revive him.
The Solution: A Stent
Knowing they needed to move fast, the ER team rushed Paul to the heart catheterization lab.
UPMC McKeesport offers a full-service heart cath lab. This lets doctors perform life-saving procedures within the hospital, rather than spending precious time sending patients to another UPMC hospital.
In the cath lab, doctors saw that Paul was having a heart attack. Paul had a complete blockage in his artery.
John J. Pacella, MD, an interventional cardiologist, did a heart catheterization and stent placement.
After successfully unblocking the artery and placing the stent, doctors put Paul in the ICU to watch his condition. Due to an irregular heartbeat, Paul spent some time in the ICU under the care of cardiologist Matthew Harinstein, MD.
While he was healing in the ICU, Paul had plenty of visitors.
“The nurses from the ER all stopped by to see me,” Paul says.
Upon discharge from the ICU, Paul moved to the cardiac step-down unit before going home.
Paul sang the praises of all who cared for him, especially the nursing staff.
“The nurses were wonderful on every floor I was on. I never wanted for anything. They took care of my every need and took me in like their own,” says Paul.
The Path to Complete Heart Care Through UPMC McKeesport
When shortness of breath brought Paul back to UPMC McKeesport, Francis Ergina, MD, performed a stress test and echocardiogram.
Paul had a follow-up appointment with Dr. Harinstein in the weeks after his cardiac arrest. Dr. Harinstein prescribed cardiac rehabilitation.
Cardiac rehab is a supervised exercise program designed to strengthen the heart after surgery, heart attack, or other heart problem.
Paul’s entire care — from the ER through follow-up and rehab — is proof of the complete cardiovascular services for UPMC McKeesport patients. Through his journey, the care teams played a role in each step of Paul’s treatment.
Paul was extra grateful for his nurses, calling them “my three angels.”
“This was the first time I had ever experienced anything like this. The staff treated me like I was family,” Paul says.
The Result: Grateful for Care Close to Home
Paul moved to McKeesport from his hometown of Pittsburgh not long before his cardiac arrest. Looking back, he's thankful he was so close to care when he needed it most.
“I'm so thankful that UPMC McKeesport was the closest hospital to me,” Paul says. “After the care I received there, if given the choice, I'd go back right away. I would say ‘take me to McKeesport.’”
Paul also partly credits his good outcome on how close the hospital is to his home.
“My girlfriend drove me to the hospital because we didn’t think it was anything more than indigestion. We hit every green light on the way. Afterward, doctors said if it had taken us even five minutes longer to get there, I wouldn’t have made it.”
“I owe my life to UPMC McKeesport,” Paul emotionally exclaims. “They treated me wonderfully. They treated my girlfriend so well.”
Working with mentally challenged adults at an assisted-living facility, Paul knows firsthand the importance of compassion and care. He's grateful to have been on the receiving end of this care during his time at UPMC McKeesport.
And he looks forward to reuniting with the teams that had a hand in saving his life.
“I want to go down the line to every single person that played a role in my care and say, ‘thank you.’ Thank you for the compassion, for the love, and for saving my life,” Paul says.
This ordeal has had a profound impact on the outlook Paul has on life these days.
“I’m calmer now,” Paul says. “I’m back to doing everything that I was doing before my heart attack, just in smaller moderations. I have UPMC McKeesport to thank for that.”
“My experience at UPMC McKeesport was beyond positive,” Paul says. “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for UPMC McKeesport.”
Paul's treatment and results may not be representative of similar cases.
Learn More About Cardiac Arrest
From the UPMC HealthBeat blog: The Difference Between Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest