'No one's guaranteed tomorrow'David Hull enjoys a healthy lifestyle complete with good nutrition and plenty of exercise, so his wife was more than surprised when he suddenly collapsed on Jan. 19.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
David Hull enjoys a healthy lifestyle complete with good nutrition and plenty of exercise, so his wife was more than surprised when he suddenly collapsed on Jan. 19.
“It was the biggest shock,” Shelley Hull said.
As David fell to the floor inside Fairview Red Wing Medical Center, medical personnel rushed to his side.
“Within 20 seconds there were probably 10 people and within a minute there were probably 30,” Shelley remembered.
David had woken up that morning feeling different than usual. He was experiencing symptoms of nausea, a cold sweat, pain in his arms and pressure in his chest — similar to those of the flu. While part of him tried to deny that anything was seriously wrong, another part decided a trip to the hospital would be necessary. And that’s when the worst happened.
Laying in the middle of the floor at Fairview, David’s heart had fully stopped — not once, but twice.
David’s father suffered multiple heart attacks throughout his life and both of David’s grandfathers died early of heart attacks, so it wasn’t completely out of the question for David to eventually experience similar problems.
“I’ve got unlucky genes. I lived with a little bit of a cloud of heart disease over my head,” he said.
Still, being only 43 years old and very active, having a heart attack of his own was unexpected at this point in his life. Among training for marathons, eating healthy, taking cholesterol-lowering medications and exercising with his noontime running group, he had been doing everything right.
Since February is American Heart Month, the American Heart Association uses this time of year to put a lot of emphasis on bringing awareness to heart disease. While many think it’s an issue that only comes about with old age or poor health, David’s situation proves otherwise.
Several of the main controllable risk factors for heart disease include lowering cholesterol, reducing high blood pressure, maintaining a normal body mass index and becoming physically active — all of which David had a handle on.
“I’ve always been very vigilant of my heart health,” he said.
Nevertheless, his right coronary artery had gotten to the point of 100 percent blockage.
While medical staff at Fairview used an external defibrillator to shock David each time his heart came to a stop, his wife stood by hoping for the best.
“The whole team at Fairview was absolutely fabulous at helping me understand what was going on,” Shelley said.
From Fairview, David was quickly airlifted to St. Marys Hospital in Rochester, where a stint was put into his artery.
Following a five-day stay at St. Marys, he returned home to Red Wing to recover. Only three weeks later, the same artery that was 100 percent blocked now sees 100 percent flow.
Although there are some risks of the stint blocking up over the next year, David said he doesn’t focus on the possibility of another incident down the road.
“There’s a worry, but you have to live every day. I don’t obsess about it and I don’t think there’s a reason to,” he said. “No one’s guaranteed tomorrow so you can’t live in fear.”
Had David ignored the symptoms he experienced early Jan. 19, the day could have ended much differently than it did. Knowing that, he said one of the most important things a person can do is watch out for anything out of the ordinary.
“Listen to your body and listen to the warning signs.