Husband, Father, Health Care Professional and Reluctant Cardiac Catheterization Patient
"My advice to others is don’t do what I did. Don’t put it off. By having a cardiac cath, I now have peace of mind."
Don’t Put It Off -- Cardiac Catheterization Available Close to Home
As a Clinical Manager at MidMichigan Medical Center - Gratiot, Matt Gulick, R.N., oversees the critical care, progressive care and rehabilitation units. One morning in early September, he was also an unexpected patient.
“I was having what I considered upper gastric pain,” Matt said. Other health care professionals with whom he works thought differently. “They called it chest pain and after resisting for a bit, I let them drag me down for the procedure.”
Matt needed to undergo a cardiac catheterization to rule out the possibility that he was having a problem with this heart. At age 41, he may seem too young to worry about heart problems. However, because of a strong family history of heart disease, Matt knows he needs to be vigilant about caring for his health.
“My dad died at age 38 from a second heart attack,” he said. “Most of the men on my father’s side of the family didn’t make to retirement age.”
Cardiac catheterization involves inserting a thin flexible tube called a catheter into the coronary arteries, to diagnose and/or treat cardiovascular conditions. This technique is most often used to locate blockages or other problems by measuring the pressure and flow of blood in the heart and by capturing images of the arteries, called angiograms.
Happily for Matt, the test showed no blockages.
“Thankfully, everything was good,” he said. “With a cardiac cath, they inject a contrast dye directly into the arteries: It is the definitive test to see if you have a blockage. Now I know 100 percent that the pain wasn’t related to my heart.”
Matt appreciated the efforts of his co-workers.
“The staff is great – very knowledgeable, caring and very profession. I didn’t have to wait long, everything was clearly explained to me, and the procedure itself was painless. All in all it was a good experience.”
Matt’s recovery time was minimal as well; he had the procedure on a Tuesday morning and was back to work that Friday.
The experience was especially interesting for Matt because earlier in his career, he worked in the cardiac catheterization lab.
“I used to be the person doing patient education. I did the pre- and postop instructions, gave them their discharge instructions,” he said. “Now, having been on the other side of those conversations -- flat on my back, looking up and listening to someone tell me what to expect -- I gained a whole new appreciation for what a patient experiences.”
Matt admits he was wrong to ignore what could have been serious warning signs.
“Most people who have a heart attack initially dismiss the symptoms as something else, like indigestion,” he said. “My advice to others is don’t do what I did. Don’t put it off. We have the resources here in Alma and the procedure is quick and relatively painless. Even at my age, with my family history, I should have never have delayed.”
MidMichigan Medical Center - Gratiot provides a full range of cardiovascular services including cardiac studies like stress tests and electrocardiograms (EKGs) to more sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic procedures like heart catheterization, internal cardiac defibrillator and pacemaker implantation. Should surgery become necessary, a full range of advanced interventional procedures are offered in nearby Midland through our affiliate MidMichigan Medical Center - Midland. Learn more about MidMichigan Health’s comprehensive heart program at http://www.midmichigan.org/heart.