Minutes matter. Laura's story of survival
Laura listened to her body. When she started feeling unwell, she went immediately to the closest ER, which saved her life.
We all remember pivotal dates in our personal history — the day we got married, kids' births, maybe even the day our first parent passed away. Laura has one additional date on her list — October 9, 2019. The day she could have died if she hadn't sought immediate emergency care.
Laura had awoken extra early that day. 5 a.m., to be exact. She remembers having heartburn, though that wasn't new for her. What was new was the location. Her heartburn had always been in the center of her chest. This time it was left of center.
Laura went about her morning and drove her daughter-in-law to the Salt Lake City Airport for a flight. As she was approaching the 1100 S. exit on I-15 in Brigham City on her way home, Laura started to feel like she was out of breath. "It felt how it feels when I have a migraine," Laura said. "Like I needed air."
As she exited the freeway, Laura says she started feeling a squeezing on her left arm. No pain, just as if someone was squeezing her arm.
Her dad died of a heart attack, but Laura had no personal history of heart issues herself. But, she knew enough to feel that maybe something could be wrong.
"I said to myself, 'You know, the hospital's on the way home. Maybe I just drop in and get this checked out."
Laura made the short drive to the Brigham City Community Hospital emergency room. When she got to the registration desk, she says she remembers feeling a little weird. "The registration clerk asked me a question. I could formulate the answer in my head but couldn't vocalize it. It felt like I was melting."
"If you didn't have an ER that was right on top of things, I wouldn't be here today." — Laura
Within two minutes of walking into the hospital, Laura says she was whisked back through the ER doors.
The diagnosis? Laura was having a STEMI (ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction), which in lay terms means she was having a heart attack with a completely blocked artery.
"I am so grateful for the quick action of the doctor, nurses, and the ER registration clerk," Laura says. Medications were administered to increase blood flow, reduce blood pressure, and thin her blood. This array of remedies was used immediately to stabilize Laura's heart rate and blood pressure.
The ER doctor then arranged transport to our sister facility Ogden Regional Medical Center — the closest hospital with a cardiac catheterization lab — so that Laura could undergo additional treatment.
She had two stents put in her left anterior descending artery (LAD) and her Mid Lad artery. To those who ask why go to Brigham City Community Hospital instead of driving straight to Ogden, Laura says: "If I'd have gone to Ogden first, I would have been gone. It would have been way too late. Because I came to Brigham City Community Hospital first, I got stabilized, and then Ogden Regional Medical Center was ready for me as soon as I arrived."
About a month after the heart attack, Laura began a regimen at the Brigham City Community Hospital Cardiac Rehab center, which helps after a cardiac event. "It was a screaming bad heart attack," Laura says. "A widow maker. But I have zero damage from it. No loss of heart function." Now, more than three years later, Laura is feeling and looking great.
"I was 246 pounds back then. Now I am 135. I'm in better health now than I've been since I was 35!" Laura is 60 years old. "In a weird way, having a heart attack saved my life."
Laura has a message for everyone who experiences any symptom of a heart attack. "Listen to your gut," Laura says. "If you have any symptom of a heart attack, get checked out. If I hadn't gone when I did, I probably would have been dead in 10 minutes."
Laura says she is so grateful for the care she received at Brigham City Community Hospital. "I'm grateful every time I drive by. They were so fast at taking care of me. If you didn't have an ER that was right on top of things, I wouldn't be here today."