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Back on the Road

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Uploaded on Oct 18, 2011

A 10% Chance of Survival. Thanks to Henry Ford Macomb Hospital's nation-leading approach to heart attack treatment, Geoffrey Beach is back on the road.

Learn more about Geoffrey's Story:

"I was not supposed to survive... I'm here thanks to them."

Adventure bike builder Geoffrey Beach was in his garage trying to kick-start a motorcycle for a client, but the bike wasn't cooperating.

"Normally my bikes start on the first or second kick. But after 10 or 15 kicks, I got off, huffing and puffing. I lit a cigarette, looked the bike over. I tried to kick start it again. Now I'm really huffing and puffing, so I sit on the porch and light another cigarette, thinking, 'I'm going to win this.'"

The next three hours were an exercise in denial. Geoffrey's left arm and chest began to hurt. Another cigarette, water, and half a dozen Tums, more cigarettes, a warm bath, a nap ... nothing relieved his discomfort.

He called his wife, and at 11:15 a.m. Geoffrey was in the EKG room at a nearby doctor's office. He was going into cardiac arrest.

"That was when everything hit me. My pain shot up to an eight on a scale of one to 10. Next thing I know, I'm in the ambulance, then in the operating room, with 10 people all over me."

Geoffrey was actually in the cardiac catheterization lab at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital. His left anterior descending artery, one of the more important arteries within the heart and commonly known as the "widow maker," was 100 percent blocked. At just 43 years old, he was having a massive heart attack.

Many people with that type of blockage in a coronary artery don't even make it to the ER. Geoffrey was lucky. Not only did he make it to the ER, he came to the ER at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital. His visit occurred shortly after rapid treatment protocols for heart attack patients were initiated in 2006, making Henry Ford Macomb among the first in the region to report consistent, rapid door-to-balloon times.

It was just 17 minutes from the time Geoffrey arrived at the door of the Emergency Department to the time the team was performing a balloon angioplasty to open his artery.

"I've never met a hospital staff like that before," he notes, and he speaks from experience, having survived more than 10 motorcycle collisions. "Each one complements the other - they're a really great team. That artery was shut down. I was not supposed to survive. Nine in 10 people don't make it - I did. I couldn't have done it without that team, though. I'm here thanks to them."

From that point on, Geoffrey's lifestyle changed dramatically and today, nearly four years later, he feels great.

"I was Captain Pizza ... fast food all the time ... no exercise, smoking 30 cigarettes a day for 30 years. I haven't had a cigarette since, and I won't. My diet's changed. I'm big on sandwiches with lots of vegetables. We walk every day. We don't sit in front of the TV anymore."

For anyone experiencing symptoms like his, Geoffrey has this advice: "Dial 911. Just do it. I've always been the tough guy, and I went into denial. I didn't have medical insurance, and part of that entered my mind - just make sure you dial 911."

Learn more about the Henry Ford Macomb Heart and Vascular Institute: http://www.henryfordmacomb.com/HVI

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