Not long ago I had a young patient that I saw in the Emergency Room with a heart attack. He was a heavy man in his early forties. He worked full time at Walmart but had no health care insurance. He said he was trying to raise 4 kids and just couldn’t afford the premiums. He waited 3 hours to come to the hospital because he was worried about his inusrance.
The man had risk factors for heart disease. He smoked, was obese, and suffered with diabetes. His exercise level was poor. His father had died in his 50’s with heart disease.
Severe chest pain had struck him on his day off. His EKG showed a large heart attack of what we used to call the “widow maker” artery- the left anterior descending. At the hospital I was working at that day we don’t have the ability to do a heart catheterization and open the artery. He was given the appropriate therapy and immediately sent to a hospital 30 minutes to our south.
I remember checking my watch and smiled because from the time he entered the Emergency Room till the time he was placed in the ambulance to go to the other hospital, it was only 25 minutes.
My smile disappeared when I found out that he had a cardiac arrest in the ambulance and didn’t make it to the other hospital. His heart disease had killed him.
We had done our part correctly, but I wondered if he’d had health care insurance would he have come in sooner? Would his outcome have been different?
Yet, I wondered about his own responsibility. Why did he allow himself to be 100 pounds overweight? Why did he smoke when he knew his father had passed away with heart disease?
Are you taking responsibility for your heart health?
You should. It can make a difference.