WASHINGTON, Mo. – November 29 is a day Denise Moreland won’t soon forget – if only she could remember all the details. “It was huge event and I was mercifully unaware of most if it because I was unconscious,” said Moreland, of Union. “I didn’t know I was so close to death.”
Moreland, 53, had suffered a heart attack that nearly killed her. It was brought on by a large blood clot and the narrowing of an artery. The combination restricted blood flow to her heart, leading to what doctors call an acute myocardial infarction (MI). Mercy Clinic cardiac interventionalist Michael Wood, MD, was on duty when Moreland was urgently wheeled into the cardiac catheterization lab directly from the ambulance.
“We were very concerned about her, and we knew we had to move quickly to save her life,” said Dr. Wood. “We had to shock her four times, but we were able to break up the clot and put in a stent to open the blockage. That is what stopped her heart attack.”
One of the tools Dr. Wood used is an AngioJet, a device that can administer clot-busting drugs and uses suction to break up blood clots through a cardiac catheter. The technology is more accurate and works faster on large clots than its predecessors. Dr. Wood said, “A delay in opening the blockage for Mrs. Moreland could have led to complications. There could have been irreversible damage to her heart. This tool was one of the many things that went right that day and contributed to why she’s still here and in such good health.”
When it comes to heart attacks, time matters. Urgent medical attention saves lives and heart muscle, which leads patients to a higher quality of life after a heart attack. Mercy Hospital Washington has two cardiac cath labs and two interventional cardiologists, Dr. Wood and Dr. Joseph Moore, who can stop heart attacks as they happen by opening blockages.
New ultrasound technologies in Mercy’s cath lab also allow doctors to see arteries from the inside out and the inner lining of the heart, including the heart valves. This perspective is a step closer to allowing the doctors to “see” a patient’s heart and vascular system using nonsurgical methods. That means diagnosis and procedures are more accurate and that lowers risks.
When Moreland had her heart attack she did everything right, although she admits she waited longer than she should have to call 911. “The day of my heart attack, I wasn’t feeling right,” she said. “I was having trouble breathing and I felt pain in my back, near my shoulder blade – not near my heart – and then it worked up to my jaw and neck and finally over to my chest. I never had that gripping pain in my chest that you hear about, but I knew something was really wrong.”
Instead of calling 911 as soon as she realized something was wrong, she called her husband. He told her to call 911. Union ambulance got her to Mercy Hospital Washington where the cath lab staff awaited her arrival and rushed her to Dr. Wood in the cath lab.
“We were able to help her very quickly, 21 minutes from when she arrived, and we had the right tools. Because of that, Mrs. Moreland is alive today and doing very well,” said Dr. Wood. “In our jobs, that’s our greatest accomplishment and also our greatest reward.”
Moreland said she wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Mercy, and she also praises a higher power: “I’m a firm Christian. I know it was not my day. God has left me here for a reason, and I feel lucky to be here.”
Mercy Washington now offers two interventional cardiologists – Drs. Joseph Moore and Michael Wood – and four general cardiologists in the region: Drs. Michael A. Beardslee, John Mohart, Joseph Polizzi, and Brian Seeck. They see patients at Mercy Hospital Washington and Mercy Clinic offices in Hermann, Owensville, St. Louis, Sullivan and Washington. For more information, visit our web page.