Jefferson Heart Attack Patient Embraces Second Chance
After he failed to heed the first big warning about his heart, John Magri was lucky to survive the second.
Magri's first heart attack at age 46 didn't faze him much. He didn't follow his doctor's orders to start to eat a healthier and to quit smoking. Moreover, the South Jersey-man took his medication, a blood thinner necessary to prevent the coronary stent he got after the first heart attack from becoming blocked, only sporadically.
A second heart attack in January – just a year and a half after the first – got Magri's attention. He is lucky to be alive and knows it.
“A blood clot had formed in his right artery as a result of John's reluctance to take the blood thinners he was prescribed after his first heart attack and stent placement,” says David Fischman, MD, co-director or the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, who performed Magri's procedure.
Dr. Fischman says people with coronary artery disease like Magri need to recognize that balloon angioplasty and stents as well as coronary artery bypass surgery treat the immediate problems of blocked blood vessels in the heart, but do not cure the underlying disease.
That's why it is critical for heart patients to quit smoking, get active, eat healthy diets, and take the medications as prescribed by their doctors, says Dr. Fischman.
“We got John into the cardiac catheterization lab less than 20 minutes after his second heart attack, found the blockage and inserted a stent to reopen blood flow to his heart,” says Dr. Fischman. “When we decrease what's known as door-to-balloon-time—the amount of time it takes from when the patient walks in the door to when we get them in the lab—we dramatically increase the patient's chance of survival.”
But to avoid a third heart attack, Dr. Fischman says John Magri and others must address the underlying coronary artery disease.
Magri emerged from his second brush with death a changed man. He quit smoking and is 28 days smoke-free, he's lost 17 pounds, he is making a serious effort to choose the treadmill over cheesesteaks, and he's taking his Plavix and aspirin every day.
“I know this might be my last chance,” he says. “I was lucky to land at Jefferson, where they had the experience and expertise to know that stenting was my best option for restoring blood flow quickly and safely and getting me back on my feet.”
John Magri wants to share his story to help others avoid his mistakes, and the potentially devastating consequences that may result.
Dr. Fischman and his colleagues are currently participating in an online forum, an opportunity for patient’s to submit questions about the diagnosis and treatment of heart problems and have them answered by some of Jefferson’s pioneering interventional cardiologists: www.JeffersonHospital.org/AskTheExperts/CardiacCath.
This story was covered by the Gloucester County Times: "Hard lessons change man's mind on health."
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