Seemingly the model of perfect health, Kevin Quinn, 63, decided to take his daily jog one March afternoon. However, as the retired New York City fireman and Rockland County resident began his usual running route, his body didn't feel normal.
“I was almost a mile into the run, and I felt something strange — a pressure or a pain in my chest,” he said. “Something stopped me. I asked myself, 'Was I short of breath?' I was. 'Does my left arm hurt?' It did. Normally, when I stop for aches and pains, they’re muscular; I slow down but keep running. But I knew these were symptoms of something serious.”
He was right. Two of the vessels that supply blood to his heart -- the left circumflex artery and the right coronary artery -- had built up enough plaque to narrow dangerously, obstructing flow. In fact, his circumflex artery (a critical branch of the left main coronary artery) had reached 100 percent occlusion, meaning no blood could pass to supply oxygen to portions of the left ventricle. His right coronary artery was 80 percent blocked. Quinn was having a heart attack, right in the middle of a West Nyack neighborhood.
Denial and Delay
Quinn didn’t have his cellphone to call 911, and while he should have rung the nearest doorbell, he admits he was still in denial at that point.
“I started to walk home very slowly, praying the whole way," he said. "When I did get home, I took a shower.” He called his sister, a nurse, to say he was thinking of driving himself to the hospital. “She said, ‘That’s the worst thing you could do,’” he recalled.
Suspecting a heart attack, she urged him to call an ambulance.
Continue reading Quinn's tale of survival via Advancing Care in the Hudson Valley.