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Emergency angioplasty at Virtua saved Jim’s life - leaving one family forever grateful

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It was a Sunday morning in August when Jim Ewen awoke with excruciating chest pain that made him hunch over as he tried to stand. His wife and daughter were away in Cape Cod, and he was alone. It took all his effort to drag himself outside to walk Krystal, a dog everyone in his Medford neighborhood knew and adored. He then drove himself to Virtua Marlton Hospital - where he stepped out of his car and collapsed onto the pavement.

A nurse saw Ewen hit the ground; she ran for help. In just minutes, the emergency team rushed him from the emergency department into the advanced catheterization lab for an emergency angioplasty. Ewen remembers hearing people yelling, "Code blue. His vitals are failing." And, from somewhere, there was a phone call from his daughter pleading, "Don't die, Daddy."

Virtua Marlton's cardiology team found a 100 percent blockage in Ewen's coronary artery. An interventional cardiologist inserted a narrow catheter into the artery to relieve the blockage. He then inserted a stent - a tiny, hollow mesh cage - to make sure that the artery stayed open.

"As soon as the angioplasty was done, the pain in my chest disappeared," says Ewen. "I could breathe freely." And while he was still in the cath lab, one of the nurses who helped save his life said something he will never forget: "Welcome back. Aren't you Krystal's owner?" The nurse is a neighbor who had often seen Ewen and his dog Krystal out on walks.

The power of Ewen's story is that he was not a heart attack waiting to happen. Young and seemingly healthy at age 52, Ewen was a high-powered sales manager and a former Marine who exercised seven days a week and did not smoke. The day before his heart attack, he ran more than three miles. But he couldn't outrun what was happening inside his body - the relentless, silent build-up of plaque and inflammation within the walls of his coronary artery.

Ewen now sees Virtua cardiologist Reginald Blaber, MD, every two months for a checkup and a clean bill of health - which makes his wife Joette and daughter Samantha thankful. Ewen sums it all up: "Virtua gave me back my life and, for that, I am forever grateful."

How Jim stays healthy
Immediately after his heart attack, Ewen went for cardiac rehabilitation at the William G. Rohrer Center for HealthFitness. He lost 38 pounds and takes all of the medication his doctors prescribe, every day. "We're both benefiting from Jim's new information about diet, exercise and heart health," says Ewen's wife Joette.

For an appointment with a Virtua cardiologist, call 1-888-Virtua-3 (1-888-847-8823).

Learn more
Heart Attack: What does it feel like? What should you do?
Additional heart attack information, articles and resources



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