KENT, Ohio (WJW) – This holiday season, 51-year-old Korey Loughry knows life is his biggest gift after surviving four episodes of cardiac arrest in one day.
“I started to feel pain in the center of my chest and because it was right in the center, I thought it can’t be a heart attack,” Loughry said.
Loughry, who lives in Kent, said he pushed through the pain, blaming the leftover steak breakfast for indigestion.
“There was still part of me that thought it just can’t be a heart attack, so I trusted my own self assessing judgment. That was my mistake,” he said.
It was a mistake that nearly cost Loughry’s life. Once home, he searched for heart attack symptoms online and called 911.
“The first cardiac arrest was in the ambulance,” Loughry said. “The next thing I knew, I came to almost like I had come out of a dream.”
The cycle of cardiac death, Loughry said, happened on the way to University Hospitals and several more times once inside.
His cardiologist, Dr. Myttle Mayuga of UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute, said it was the result of what’s commonly called a ‘widowmaker’ heart attack or blockage of the heart’s biggest artery.
“Younger and younger people are having heart attacks,” said Mayuga. “It cannot be underestimated that stress can lead to heart attacks, and especially during the holidays when you are running around.”
She said Loughry’s case was especially concerning given only about 5% of patients who experience this type of heart attack present with cardiac arrest.
“What that is, is a sudden cardiac death where an artery is completely, 100 % blocked, causing a lack of blood flow to part of the heart muscle and that actually creates an arrhythmia, an abnormal heart rhythm that causes people to collapse and pass away,” said Mayuga.
Nearly one month after his near-death experience, Loughry is spending his time thanking the first responders and medical team who saved his life and cherishing time spent with family.
He encouraged others to never ignore chest pain and avoid repeating his mistake.
“Just knowing those symptoms and listening to them, really taking to heart what you’re feeling physically,” Loughry said.