A forty four year old male came into the Emergency Department complaining of chest pain. He described it as feeling like somebody was standing on his chest, and it had been going on for an hour. He also reported feeling sweaty and was nauseous. An EKG was performed and it revealed the terrifying reason for his symptoms-he was having a heart attack.
A heart attack.
This forty four year old man with a wife and two children was having a heart attack. Unfortunately, everybody who works in an Emergency Department has seen this patient. So in the ER, we do what we do best-we are part of a team that helps save lives. Within twenty minutes-this patient will have IVs and will have received several different medications to prevent the heart attack from getting bigger. Very soon after that, he will be taken to the cardiac catheterization lab where they will open up the clogged blood vessel and place a stent to keep it patent. He will then be started on medicines to keep his blood “thin”. This man has been fixed.
He has survived his heart attack, and given a second chance to continue his life and be with his family. The good that can be done by practitioners of modern medicine is nothing short of miraculous. It is a truly amazing thing to witness and also to be a part of.
Sometimes when I think about all of the incredible feats that medicine can accomplish I begin to wonder. The thing that I wonder about-is it always necessary? What I mean to say is-did this man really need to have a heart attack? Was it at all possible that it could have been prevented? Could a healthier lifestyle have staved off such a tragedy?
We may never know the answer for this particular gentleman. In general, however, a healthier lifestyle can absolutely lower the risk of many diseases-heart attacks included. We all have control of our own destinies. We do not have to be at the mercy of our genetics-even if it seems as though bad genes run in our families. We do have the capability to help keep ourselves well.
We have the power to keep our own arteries clean. My body is a beautiful gift-and I sometimes think of caring for myself as a magnificent responsibility. Perhaps we should keep this obligation for ourselves-and not give it away so often.