When a Heart Attack Strikes

Cardiology Patient Dave Paulson Cardiology Patient Dave Paulson

Time is muscle when it comes to matters of the heart. And the sooner blood flow can be restored to an ailing heart, the better off the patient is. Dave Paulson knows this firsthand. Just 21/2 hours after he walked into a clinic in Clark feeling ill, he was recovering from an emergency catheterization surgery at Prairie Lakes Hospital.

"Everyone was really good," said Dave of the treatment he received. "People in this area are so fortunate to have first-rate cardiology services close by." 

Dave's story begins on a cold evening in January 2009. He wasn't feeling well that night. He was nauseous, his body ached and his shoulders hurt. "I didn't think too much of it at the time, but the next morning I wasn't feeling any better," Dave said. At noon, he went to the medical clinic in Clark, where Louann Streff, PA-C, examined him. "After checking me out and running a few tests, Louann told me, 'We need to get you to Watertown,'" Dave said.

The staff at the Prairie Lakes Emergency Room was ready for Dave when he arrived. Further tests showed Dave had suffered a heart attack. He needed a stent -- a small tube inserted into a coronary artery to restore blood flow to his heart. The cardiac cath team, led by Dr. Salem Maaliki, Interventional Cardiologist, was already standing in the cath lab just steps from the ER. Dr. Maaliki performed a cardiac catheterization, snaking a narrow tube through Dave's arteries to his heart. The doctor found the blockage and placed the stent, restoring blood flow without the need for open-heart surgery. Three days later, Dave was released from Prairie Lakes Hospital with no damage to his heart.

During a checkup a year later, physicians found another blocked artery. Dave returned to the Prairie Lakes Cath Lab, where Dr. Maaliki placed a second stent. In both cases, Dave followed up by completing the cardiac rehabilitation program at Prairie Lakes. In fact, he still participates in Phase 4 cardiac rehab, a maintenance program in which a desired level of exercise is achieved and maintained for life. "I try to get to rehab once a week," Dave said. "It really is nice to have all of my treatment -- from cardiac catheter to rehab -- this close to home."


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