Jeanie Carlton, a vascular technician at Lourdes hospital, performs an ultrasound examination of Albert Mainord's carotid artery. Blockage of this artery in the neck can lead to a stroke. Early detection and treatment may save lives.
A 58-year-old Lone Oak man celebrated what he called his fourth birthday on Aug. 18 at Western Baptist Hospital.
Dennis Rittenberry observed his survival of a massive heart attack that stopped his heart four years earlier. As a trained emergency medical technician, he credited recognition of his symptoms as a heart attack and rapid treatment for saving his life.
“The paramedics had to shock me three or four times to get my heart going again,” Rittenberry said. “They had almost given up.”
Paramedic Faron English of Mercy Regional Ambulance said Rittenberry’s case was critical.
“His outcome was due to the early medical care he received during his transport to the hospital and the treatment he received once he arrived. Early recognition and care is important and his survival proves it,” English said.
Teresa Cash, director of outpatient services at Western Baptist, said she worked as director of the hospital’s chest pain center when Rittenberry suffered his heart attack.
“We have certain qualifications to be accredited,” Cash said. “We are able to get people through the door, get them an EKG within 10 minutes and have them ready for a stint within 90 minutes. That’s why we are seeing better outcomes because we have these protocols in place.”
Cash said that Rittenberry’s heart attack was so massive that survival was unusual. She agreed recognition of symptoms may have been the deciding factor. She described symptoms of heart disease or heart attack to include unusual shortness of breath, chest or back pain or fatigue. For women, symptoms may also include unusual tiredness.
“When you have these symptoms, it’s worth getting a doctor to check into it to identify it early and have it corrected,” Cash said. “If you think you are having a heart attack, call 911 immediately.”
Dr. Timothy Ranval, a surgeon at Lourdes Vascular Center, said arterial blockage doesn’t always occur in the heart. It may also be found in limbs or the carotid artery in the neck. The latter places patients at risk of stroke. In limbs, symptoms may include pain in the forefoot, cramps from walking that occur after walking the same distance repeatedly and wounds on the foot and ankle. That results from obstructed blood flow.
For neck blockages, Ranval said symptoms include miniature strokes causing temporary effects like partial blindness, numbness or paralysis of limbs or face and impaired speech.
“The value of an accredited program and lab like ours is to use the best technology and follow established protocols to diagnose a problem and treat it to the best possible outcome,” Ranval said.