Diagnosis: Stress-induced cardiomyopathy
Treatment: Cardiac stent and medications
You’ll forgive Ted Sturlaugson if he’s a little fuzzy on the details.
When the 73-year-old Woodinville man was brought into EvergreenHealth’s Emergency Department in the throes of cardiac arrest, he was unconscious and medics had already restarted his heart five times.
Fortunately for Ted, EvergreenHealth’s nationally recognized cardiac team was ready and waiting to turn things around.
The medics had called ahead, and the emergency team was ready to go when he arrived.
The Emergency Department physicians were ready to draw the necessary labs. The Cardiac Catheterization Lab was ready to go with a diagnostic angiogram.
While tests showed there were signs of coronary artery disease, there were no major blockages causing Ted's cardiac arrest.
The emergency team did discover that his potassium levels were very low – likely an inherited disorder – and that probably caused his attack.
After Ted was stabilized, he was transferred, still unconscious, to EvergreenHealth Medical Center’s ICU, where he remained in a coma for more than a week.
During that time, the ICU team induced a mild hypothermia to help minimize brain damage and protect his neurological functions.
As the days passed, Ted's family prepared for the possibility that he might not wake up…or that if he did, he might have suffered severe neurological damage.
His wife, Bonnie, was asleep at home when her son called shortly before 5 a.m. one morning.
“I said, ‘He’s gone,’ and my son said, ‘No, it’s good news…get down here,’” she recalls. “I walked into the ICU room, and my husband looked at me and said, “Hi, Mama.”
Amazingly, Ted suffered few lasting effects of his cardiac arrest and subsequent coma. He was back at work just a few weeks after the attack.
The teamwork involved in treating cardiac patients like Ted Sturlaugson is why the U.S. government has recognized EvergreenHealth as one of the country’s most successful hospitals for heart attack survival rates.
Ted reaped the benefits of that teamwork – multiple cardiologists, pulmonary specialists, hospitalists and staff from the Acute Rehab Unit, Cardiac Rehabilitation and Neuropsych were all involved in his care. He also had a stent and defibrillator installed.
But EvergreenHealth’s success goes beyond the lifesaving care in the emergency room.
Through cardiac rehabilitation and other innovative follow up programs, cardiac patients are taught the lifestyle changes necessary to keep them from future heart attacks.
Ted Sturlaugson participated in the full 12 weeks of the cardiac rehab program, and credits it with giving him the tools to lead a healthier life. He took up exercise and has lost 30 pounds.
“I’ve learned about fat content of food and the importance of exercise,” he says. “I’m very attentive to that. I eat skinless chicken and a little bit of pork, and drool over the cheeseburgers I can’t eat.”