Having a family history of heart issues and losing her father (age 38) and brother (age 52) to heart attacks, she knew what to watch for and sought care immediately.
When Suzanne Rye Lowe, 52, was experiencing intermittent chest pain on November 4, 2018, she brushed it off, thinking it was reflux. But then she felt two quick, sharp pains in her chest, and didn’t hesitate to call for help. Aiken Regional Medical Centers’ emergency department quickly evaluated her and ran blood work and additional tests. Based on the results, they advised she stay the night for observation.
Lowe explains that 45 minutes later, while waiting to repeat some blood tests, she started feeling the classic heart attack symptoms of the crushing feeling in her chest; pain radiating up into her face, her back and arm; and nausea. She alerted the nurse, and another EKG was performed – Lowe was in the midst of having a heart attack.
Completely blocked artery
Doctors quickly moved Lowe to the cardiac catheterization lab, where Interventional Cardiologist David Cundey, MD, FACC, and his team began a procedure, known as an angioplasty, that would save Lowe’s life. “I was awake the whole time, and I remember this crushing pain. When Dr. Cundey placed three stents in a completely blocked artery, the blood flow was restored and the pain subsided,” says Lowe. “Within an hour, I was finally breathing much better and was so relieved.”
Lowe was then transferred to the ICU (intensive care unit) for observation. That’s when one of the nurses learned it was Lowe’s wedding anniversary and brought dinner in for Lowe and her husband to celebrate. “We were counting our blessings that we were able to even be together on our anniversary, and we were touched by her gesture of kindness,” says Lowe.
Road to recovery
In less than 24 hours from when her saga began, Lowe was back home. Soon after, she began the Aiken Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, located in the USCA Wellness Center. “The program included 36 sessions of cardio and weightlifting, one hour each, three times a week. I loved that the rehab is so close to the hospital. If anything happened, I’m right there,” says Lowe, who is feeling much better. “Plus, a cardiologist and two nurses were always present to monitor patients closely. I would be tired after each workout, which they said is normal, but have had no pain or issues since my heart attack,” she adds.
Lowe continues to improve, and has lost weight since revamping her diet and following a program provided by her cardiologist. “I am eating less carbs and feel absolutely great,” Lowe says.
“Invaluable to the community”
From start to finish, Lowe says her patient experience with Aiken Regional Medical Centers was incredible. “This facility, doctors, nurses and entire staff are invaluable to the community, and I am so grateful,” she says.
When talking about her experience, Lowe says she had every symptom imaginable at the time of her heart attack. Which is why she cautions that you should be aware of signs and symptoms you may have leading up to a heart attack. “If you are outside working in your garden, do you get out of breath? Do you feel discomfort? Make sure you see your doctor if you notice these little things. And if you think you are having a heart attack, do not wait – get help immediately! You may not get a second chance like I did,” she says.
The Aiken Cardiac Rehabilitation Program
If you’ve had a recent cardiac event, a customized program can help heal your heart.