INDIANAPOLIS – It’s almost been a month since Weather Authority Chief Meteorologist Chris Wright had his second heart attack. Now Chris and one of his doctors are sharing his personal story to help raise awareness about heart disease and the warning signs you may not know come with it.
“This is just something that runs in my family. I’ve lost both my parents to congestive heart failure. Matter of fact, my mom had a heart attack and a stroke last September and died in June,” Wright said.
Wright was concerned after having a second heart attack because he’s 55, and his father had a heart attack at 55 and died at 59. He says it was kind of a wake-up call.
For Wright, a family history and a previous heart attack weren’t enough to recognize the silent symptoms the second time around.
Wright vividly recalls his second heart attack. He says it was a Saturday night, and he just couldn’t get comfortable. He said he had a heavy feeling in his chest. He thought it was heartburn, but it was actually his heart fighting to function.
“I didn’t have any other pain and other symptoms. And Sunday as the day went on, I felt worse. It went from chills, to sweating and I still had the heavy feeling in my chest. Didn’t have any appetite, just felt like that hamburger was sitting right there,” Wright said.
Two days after the symptoms started, Chris finally went to the emergency room.
“They do the initial blood work and the first they tell me is that based on what we see in your blood work, we think you had a heart attack at some point over the weekend.” Wright, in disbelief said, “No, no I didn’t. I didn’t have any pain or anything, just indigestion.” Wright’s cardiologist said, “No, we think it’s a little bit more than that.”
Dr. Edward Fry with St. Vincent performed Wright’s cardiac catheterization, and he confirmed what the blood tests showed. “He had complete blockage in one of the three arteries around the heart which probably caused a partial heart attack starting several days before coming into the hospital,” said Fry.
Wright was stunned to learn the doctors had to go in and clean out a blockage and put in stent. “I didn’t have a blockage, I’m in great shape and the doctor says, ‘Yea, you were one hundred percent blocked.’”
Dr. Fry says if he had waited even hours longer, the outcome could have been much worse. “There would have been more damage to the heart muscle and we know that the prognosis and the outcome long term are directly related to how much damage is done.”
Wright says, “I ignored the signs. As a weather person, you’re always looking for patterns and trends, and the pattern and the trend was right there, and I just missed it. I totally overlooked it because I was so sure that I knew what it was.”
The Mayo Clinic and the American Heart Association both say many heart attacks begin with subtle symptoms like some discomfort but not exactly pain in the chest. Nausea, lightheadedness and sweating are also signs that are easy to mistake as something else and ignore them.
Dr. Fry told us the four “earlies” are the key to surviving a heart attack.
- Early Prevention
- Early Recognition
- Early Treatment
- Early Action
We hope Chris’ story raises awareness. For more information about heart diseases, other cardiovascular diseases and the treatment you can get right here in Indiana, please visit one of these links.