When Minutes Truly Matter
Germantown man survives a heart attack, thanks to quick actions and modern technology
It started as tingling in his shoulder and continued as discomfort in his chest. Then his heart began racing.
At just 41 years old, Parag Parikh of Germantown was suffering a heart attack.
Despite a family history of heart disease, Parikh wasn’t sure he was having an attack. “I called 911 to be safe,” he says.
Within minutes, paramedics had performed an electrocardiogram (EKG) and sent the results directly to physicians at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, thanks to LifeNet—a communications system newly installed in all Montgomery County ambulances that sends critical medical information to physicians while patients are en route to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital and Washington Adventist Hospital.
“This means better, faster treatment. The sooner a heart attack patient is treated, the better the chance for survival and a quick recovery,” says Michael Castine, M.D., Parikh’s interventional cardiologist. When EMS transmitted Parikh’s EKG, the hospital was able to activate the cardiac catheterization laboratory before he arrived.
Shortly after his arrival at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Parikh experienced cardiac arrest but was quickly resuscitated and rushed to the catheterization lab, where Dr. Castine performed an emergency percutaneous coronary intervention, or angioplasty, to relieve a blockage in one of his heart arteries.
When Parikh woke up in the Intensive Care Unit, he learned “the nurses were nice enough to call my parents, who were 8,000 miles away in India, and notify them. Because of that, I knew I was in good care— and so did my family,” he says.
For Parikh, his heart attack was a wakeup call to improve his health. The cardiac rehabilitation team at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital helped him focus on heart healthy exercise and lifestyle.
“My cardiologist checks in on my rehab routine and the exercise physiologists monitor my heart rate and take my blood pressure,” he explains.
Cardiac rehab following a heart attack has been shown to reduce heart disease risk factors and improve quality of life, emotional stability and the ability to carry out daily activities. The Cardiac Rehabilitation Centers at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville and Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park are nationally certified exercise and education programs by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.
“There is a multidisciplinary team dedicated to rehabilitating patients after a cardiac event,” says Dennis Friedman, M.D., medical director of cardiovascular services and cardiac rehabilitation at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. “Cardiologists, registered nurses, physiologists, dietitians and certified diabetes educators work together to improve the patient’s quality of life and to prevent the progression of heart disease.”
As he works to improve his health and prevent another heart attack, Parikh has also met with a cardiac rehab dietitian, plans to keep exercising and may join some of the free education programs offered by the Cardiac Rehab Center.
“Cardiac rehab, this entire experience,” Parikh says, “is helping me regain my confidence, physically and emotionally.”