Luz Ramirez, a healthy mother of five from Rocky Point, NY, leads an extremely active life. But on the afternoon of June 14, 2021, she was sitting down in her kitchen eating, and out of nowhere she felt a sharp pain in her chest. She knew right away that something was terribly wrong.
“I told myself I would wait a few minutes to see if the pain continued or went away on its own,” Ms. Ramirez said, but as she waited the pain got stronger. “I thought to myself, this is a heart attack” and immediately dialed 911.
Ms. Ramirez’s pain continued to progressively get worse as she waited for the ambulance to come. “By the time the paramedics arrived, I was lying on the floor fighting for my life asking God to please let me live. Four of my five children were home with me, and they were watching their mother die in front of them. It was the worst moment of my life.”
Because of her age and general overall appearance of health, the paramedics initially thought that Ms. Ramirez might be suffering from an anxiety attack rather than a serious cardiac event. “I’m pretty young – I’m only 47 and I don’t have any other health issues or history of cardiac problems in my family,” reports Ms. Ramirez. “I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I’m not obese – I mean I could probably lose 10 pounds, but I’m generally healthy. If you look at me, you would never in a million years think that I would have a heart attack.”
As soon as Ms. Ramirez got to the Emergency Room at Mather Hospital, things moved very quickly. After initial tests, the electrocardiogram showed that she was having an acute myocardial infarction, or heart attack. The Cath Lab team was immediately alerted. By that time, her body had started to go numb, and she could no longer feel her legs, as a result of the reduced blow flow caused by the blockage in her heart. “Some patients experiencing a heart attack may go into shock and feel this way,” said Nicole Hoefler, MSN, BSN, RN, CVN, nursing director for the Cardiac Cath Lab.
“Ms. Ramirez was rushed to the Cath Lab where we performed a coronary angiogram which is an X-ray procedure with contrast to evaluate the blood flow in the arteries that provide blood to the muscle of the heart,” said Ms. Hoefler. “The main artery that provides blood to the front part of her heart was completely closed,” Ms. Hoefler said. Following the angiogram, the Cath Lab team performed an angioplasty procedure which opened the blocked coronary artery and restored blood flow using stents to help keep the artery from closing again.
“If it wasn’t for the professionalism and compassion of the nurses and doctors, and how quickly they reacted, I would not be here today, and my children would have lost their mother. The way they took care of me it was like every second counted,” Ms. Ramirez said.
After four days in Mather’s Intensive Care Unit, Ms. Ramirez was discharged and was able to return home to recover.
Leading up to her heart attack Ms. Ramirez led a normal, healthy, and active life, especially with four teenagers living at home. Now that she’s recovered, she says she’s more active than ever. “It makes you realize life is short and I want to go after my goals now more than ever. I’m very excited and happy to have another chance at life.” As a stay-at-home mom with five children, Ms. Ramirez is looking forward to returning to her career as a real estate agent and getting to see her children grow up, graduate high school, and go to college.
“I want to thank everyone from the triage nurse in the Emergency Department, the Cath Lab staff, the doctors and nurses in the ICU, I remember them all. They’re my angels,” Ms. Ramirez said. “I know I was brought to the right place at the right time. I think if I had gone anywhere else, the staff may not have acted as quickly as they did at Mather and it could have cost me my life.”