Kicking Off the Workday with a Heart Attack

Tony Smarjesse wasn’t planning on having a heart attack when he got to work last November.

The 56-year-old worked out a couple times a week, followed a fairly healthy diet and was on low dose statins to control his high cholesterol. He paid attention to his health because both his father and grandfather had a history of heart disease.

When he experienced chest pain after moving a shelf in his office, it caught his attention.

“When the intensity level of the chest pain increased, I told my boss I was heading to Memorial Medical Center,” Tony said. “He offered to drive me, and I know I should have taken his offer, but I ended up driving myself the three minutes over to the emergency room.”

Once there, the Emergency Department team acted quickly to assess Tony’s condition. His EKG showed abnormal changes so he was taken immediately to the Cath Lab at the Memorial Heart & Vascular Center. There he received a stent in his LAD (the “widow-maker” artery). He was in recovery less than two hours later.

“He was in the Emergency Department, up to the Cath Lab and in recovery quickly,” said Shari Hill, MSN, RN, CNOR, director of Invasive Cardiac Services. “In recovery, we watch vitals and monitor at all times, and patients are usually pain-free and receiving normal medical care at that time.”

Today, Tony is doing well. He just dropped his daughter off at college in Colorado and spent four days visiting family in southern California. When the weather is nicer, he hopes to return to biking and walking outdoors.

He is also enrolled in the 12-week cardiac rehabilitation program at Koke Mill and enjoys interacting with the staff there.

“They all help out and do a great job,” Tony said. “They monitor my blood pressure before, during and after my workouts. I have the heart monitor on all the time. It’s a great environment.”

For more information about cardiac rehab, talk with your doctor. For information about cardiac rehab at our affiliate locations, visit:

Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital
Decatur Memorial Hospital Heart and Lung Institute
Memorial Medical Center Heart & Vascular Services
Passavant Area Hospital
Taylorville Memorial Hospital

Related links:

Improving Outcomes After Heart Attack

Cardiac Rehab Becomes Lifelong Benefit for Lincoln Man