Taking A Beat: A Heart Attack Survivor’s Story
Prevention and Treatment As the vice president of a major construction company, Greg Nevison almost never calls in sick, but two years ago, he knew something was wrong.
It was nearing the end of the summer and Nevison was out for his regular swim, but his body didn’t feel up for it. “It felt sort of like the flu,” he says, explaining that he brushed it off and continued with his workout. As he swam, the discomfort worsened.
A whole new pain
“It felt muscular, sort of in my shoulders and arms, which you use tremendously in swimming, so I thought it was related to the swimming,” he recalls. After finishing his workout, he planned to go to his next appointment, but on the drive over, he was still feeling off so he rerouted and went home to rest and search for answers. “It was a sensation I’d never really had before so that’s why I pulled out my phone and started looking,” he says. The pain was persistent and worsening, mostly concentrated to his chest area and radiating down his arm. Nevison Googled his symptoms and discovered they were classic signs of a heart attack.
"It was a sensation I’d never really had before..."
He called 911 and chewed two low dose tablets (81mg) of acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), and headed to the hospital. Medical tests confirmed that Nevison had experienced a heart attack. “I was shocked,” he says. “I didn’t really think it was that bad.” The cardiologist told Nevison that taking low dose ASA as soon as he suspected a heart attack was “the smartest thing you did.” In Canada, low-dose Aspirin are approved for emergency use during a heart attack and may stop blood clots from forming. Nevison’s cardiologist said that it’s likely that these pills may have helped save his life. At the time of his heart attack, Nevison was 56 and thanks to exercising regularly, his doctors considered him to be in good health.
Strength thought family
He had no family history of heart attacks, but he had been under prolonged stress – considered a risk factor for heart attacks – while his family built their new home. “I’m kind of high strung to start with,” says the senior vice president of Tridel Corporation. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, every seven minutes, someone experiences a heart attack and each year, heart attacks claim nearly 16,000 lives.
If it wasn’t for his friend who had suffered a massive heart attack only a few months before, Nevison says he wouldn’t have taken action. “I probably would’ve ignored it and gone to bed,” he says.
Knowing the signs and symptoms, Nevison now tells all of his friends to take precautions, including keeping low dose ASA in easily accessible places like your bag, or in an office drawer. Nevison says that often times, people will think they’re fine, attributing symptoms to the flu or a workout, like he did, but he encourages people to take these signs seriously. “If you have any suspicions, call 911 and then crush and chew two low dose ASA,” he says.