PARMA, Ohio — A reunion that was a long time coming took place recently between heart attack victim Andrew Novak and the UH Parma Medical Center staff who nearly two years ago saved his life.
“My heart attack took place on Jan. 20, 2018,” said Parma Heights resident and Cleveland native Novak, 51, a 1987 South High School graduate. “It was strange because almost all of the details had to be conveyed to me after I was brought back from sedation.”
Initially thinking he had pneumonia when his chest started hurting, Novak had a heart attack at home. After calling 911, his wife and daughter performed CPR. The Parma Heights Fire Department arrived at the home four minutes later.
At UH Parma Medical Center, Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Paul Poommipanit performed an intervention to unblock Novak’s completely occluded left anterior descending artery, which is referred to as the widowmaker heart attack because its blockage can lead to sudden death.
In addition to receiving 24 units of blood products and coding multiple times, Novak received an implantable defibrillator, which placed under his skin shocked the heart back into a normal rhythm if needed.
He was also placed in therapeutic hypothermia to allow his organs time to recover. Because his heart was too weak to pump adequate blood and oxygen to his brain, kidneys and other vital organs, an Impella heart pump, the size of a standard pencil, was used to relieve stress on his body and give him time to heal.
“Andy underwent a miraculous recovery from a combination of an acute MI (myocardial infarction or heart attack) and probably viral cardiomyopathy,” Poommipanit said. “Though he had a long road to recovery, including dialysis and rehabilitation, Andy has now returned to a normal quality of life.”
Novak said the recent reunion was more than special.
“It was very exciting,” Novak said. “Considering these people took care of me, you form a bond with them. There’s a great indebtedness you feel.”
That indebtedness was something Novak took very seriously post-heart attack. Originally a smoker, the patient quit after his hospital stay.
“Considering the people who saved my life, I figured it would be really disrespectful for what they did for me if I just went back to smoking,” Novak said. “I was really fortunate. My daughter got married last October, and my other daughter is engaged. I’ve also spent time with my son and, of course, my wife.
“Every day is a gift. You hear people say that, but let me tell you, once you’ve been dead you realize that it’s in fact very, very true.”
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