After three heart attacks, a young father is grateful to be alive.
“My family, my doctors and nurses, all these people were there for me when I needed them,” he says. “I want to be able to work again and help them in return.”
If there were a window into 28-year-old An Doan’s heart, we would likely see love and appreciation for his extended family and, most of all, for his wife, Tam Cao, and his two little girls. We might also see his passion for fishing and the chill of the morning air as it huddles hazily at the end of Newport Pier. The window would also reveal something unusual for someone so young – a stent in his left main coronary artery (LMCA), faithfully supporting the vessel’s inner walls so blood can flow, unimpeded, to the left side of his heart.
A triple threat
An had experienced occasional chest pain in the weeks leading up to the event, and he had handled it similarly as any unsuspecting young man might – by lying down until it passed. It never occurred to him that plaque had collected in his coronary arteries and was now threatening to cut off the flow of blood.
On April 7, 2018, An left his job at the nail salon feeling extremely tired. Arriving home, he prepared a small meal, but just as he sat down to eat, he collapsed on the floor, unconscious. His wife flew to his side and, finding that his heart had stopped, she called 9-1-1 and began performing CPR.
With An’s heart beating again, paramedics rushed him to the nearest hospital where he suffered a second cardiac arrest, and later to Orange Coast Medical Center, a designated Cardiac Receiving Center, equipped to handle the most serious cardiac cases.
At Orange Coast Medical Center, An suffered a third cardiac arrest, and the cardiac team jumped into immediate action. Tae Yang, M.D., an interventional cardiologist, got An’s heart beating again. Dr. Yang placed a ventilation tube into his trachea to help An breathe. Live X-rays from an angiogram revealed that An’s LMCA was 100 percent blocked. Doctors then guided a balloon-tipped catheter covered with a metal mesh stent into the occlusion and inflated it, compressing the waxy plaque against the artery walls. The balloon was deflated and withdrawn, leaving the stent in place.
A tiny heart pump was temporarily inserted into his left ventricle to support its function and his body temperature was lowered to a consistent 93 degrees to help reduce brain injury and improve his neurological outcome.
“When he presented at the hospital, his heart was in shock, his kidneys were failing, he was unconscious and had no neurologic function,” says Dr. Yang. “His condition was as critical as it could be, and we had to prepare his family for the worst.”
One week later, An’s kidney and heart function had improved dramatically, and he began to regain consciousness.
“He made a remarkable recovery,” says Dr. Yang. “He survived mainly because he’s young and he was with someone who knew CPR when he arrested. He recovered his cardiac and neurologic function because of the immediate angioplasty and therapeutic hypothermia we performed. He’ll need a second procedure to open another occluded vessel, but then he is expected to live a normal life.”
As for An, he hopes someday to bring his wife back to Vietnam to visit his family, but for now, he’s looking forward to the second surgery that will leave him feeling less tired, so he can return to work.
Heart care 24/7
As a designated Cardiac Receiving Center, Orange Coast Medical Center is equipped to treat heart attack victims in a matter of minutes. Patients are rapidly assessed and triaged. Then, dependent upon their condition, they may receive angiography, angioplasty, bypass surgery, or a combination of these. The Cardiac Receiving Center at Orange Coast Medical Center’s Emergency Department is ready to treat heart attack patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year.
For more information please visit memorialcare.org/ocheart.
An Doan spending time with his daughters, Celina (2) and Angelina (3), after recovering from a heart attack at 27.
Heart to Heart with Female Cardiac Specialists
Orange Coast Medical Center has an incredible team of cardiac specialists, including four women dedicated to the prevention and treatment of women’s heart disease.
Amanda Donohue, D.O., invasive cardiologist
Q: What are some of the symptoms of a heart attack in women?
Dr. D: The typical presentation is crushing pain in the chest, but women often present with atypical symptoms that are easily ignored: fatigue; heartburn; shortness of breath; diffuse pain in the arms, back, neck or jaw; nausea, vomiting, dizziness or fainting; sometimes a cold, clammy sweat.
Sarah Elsayed, M.D., interventional cardiologist
Q: Can you tell us about Cardiac Rehab at Orange Coast Medical Center?
Dr. E: After a cardiac event or surgery, rehab helps patients regain health. They learn about physical activity, good nutrition, and how their medications impact their health. During rehab, we monitor patients in a structured exercise program and, if we need to, we can fine-tune their medications.
Rachel Hargrove, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon
Q: Why is heart health and awareness so important for women?
Dr. H: Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women. Cardiovascular disease and stroke are responsible for one in three female deaths each year. Ninety percent of women have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but they’re often overlooked. Orange County Go Red is an initiative of the American Heart Association to raise public awareness about women’s heart health and advocate for more research, two areas I’m very passionate about. For more, in-depth details on women’s heart health, listen to my podcast at memorialcare.org/HeartDiseaseFacts.
Jennifer Wong, M.D., cardiologist
Q: How can women limit their risk of heart attack?
Dr. W: Women should have an annual checkup and talk to their doctors about weight, blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and any symptoms they’ve experienced. Maintain a normal weight and, if you’re diabetic, keep your blood sugar under control. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and reduce stress.
Q: Does Orange Coast Medical Center have a cardiac screening program for women?
Dr. W: Yes. It’s a comprehensive program open to adult women for a small fee, whether they’re patients or not.
Heart Rhythm Specialist Joins Team
Cardiac electrophysiologist Nikhil Warrier, M.D., F.A.C.C., has joined the cardiac team at Orange Coast Medical Center. “My specialty involves diagnosing and treating irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias,” says Dr. Warrier. “Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) is by far the most common problem.” Affecting 2.7 million Americans, AFib occurs when abnormal electrical impulses in the heart cause the upper two chambers to beat chaotically. Symptoms may include heart palpitations or fluttering, shortness of breath, and general weakness. AFib increases the patient’s risk of stroke and heart failure.
For more information, listen to Dr. Warrier’s podcast, “More than Just a Heartbeat: The Truth about Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)” at memorialcare.org/AfibFacts.