Stu McLean, 34, didn’t see his heart attack coming. It came out of nowhere. There was no family history of heart disease, and being a college hockey coach, he was active and healthy. In the days before the attack, McLean admits he felt “a little off,” but he played hockey the day before the attack and went for a run on the day it occurred. McLean recalls that while running, his chest began to burn, as if he had pneumonia, but he wasn’t concerned. It was while eating at a restaurant with his daughter later that evening — when he was having “bad heartburn” and broke out in a cold sweat — that McLean knew he should go to the ER.
In McLean’s own words:
I have “white coat syndrome,”— an increased blood pressure due to anxiety whenever I visit a doctor — so it wasn’t easy for me to go for help. Once I was at the ER, things happened pretty quickly. The staff took my blood pressure, which was extremely high. Then they gave me a nitro patch and drew blood that showed increased stress levels on my heart. An X-ray and CT scan didn’t show any problems, but I was admitted to the hospital for observation. The next day, I had an echocardiogram that showed nothing wrong. It was a medical stress test that showed there was an abnormality.
That’s when interventional cardiologist Kristopher Selke, MD, scheduled me for a heart catheterization, which revealed a blood clot in my artery that was 95 percent blocked. During the catheterization, I was sedated pretty heavily, but because the team needs to ask you questions, you are semi-awake. I remember the procedure, and I could feel the catheter, but there was no pain.
Once they found and removed the clot, Dr. Selke said I needed a stent that would keep the artery open. It was a brand new dissolving heart stent that would be absorbed by the body in about three years. It was the latest technology, and I would be the first person in West Michigan to receive it.
The care I received at Mercy Health was amazing. I’m a strong Christian, and my faith is important to me. The chaplain came and prayed with me and over me before my procedure. He met my parents when I was in the hospital. My father has since passed away, and word got around the hospital about his death. I received flowers and a note of condolence from my cardiologist and his office. When the chaplain happened to see me in the hospital on my way to a follow-up visit in early May, he gave me a prayer blanket to give to my mom because he knew she would be sad without my dad on Mother’s Day. The people at Mercy Health have become a part of me.
I trust Mercy Health with my cardiac care because their cardiology teams came together to discuss my case and to determine what the best option would be for me. The cardiac rehab team was phenomenal too. They went above and beyond. They knew me as a person — I wasn’t just a number. They made me feel like family.
It’s that kind of experience that sets Mercy Health apart. Everyone wants to know your story.
Learn more about the naturally dissolving heart stent and Stu’s story.