Stuart Colon

Stuart Colon, 44, has lived quite a life. Born and raised in New York, he joined the military when he was 17 years old. After leaving the service, he worked different jobs before rejoining the military after September 11. He was sent to Iraq where he was injured and medically retired from service. When he got home, he made sure to do everything he could to stay physically fit, but still struggled with quitting cigarette smoking.

Then on September 13, 2014 he had a heart attack. "Nothing was really going on that day. I woke up, and all of a sudden I started feeling pain in my chest. It felt like a needle was in my chest, but it also felt like heartburn so I didn't think much of it. I told my wife that I was going to lay down because I didn't feel well. When I got up, I felt fine until I started walking around and pain came back. Then I started feeling nauseous. I usually don't get sick, so I told my wife I needed to go to the hospital."

He continues, "I went to the ER at West Marion and told them my situation. I waited for about a minute before they called me back, and the next thing I knew, one of the doctors was saying, 'Just to let you know, you're having a heart attack.' It didn't even feel like a heart attack."

Once the ER team at West Marion stabilized Colon, he was transported by ambulance to Ocala Regional Medical Center. There, Colon was taken immediately to the catheterization lab where one of Ocala Regional's interventional cardiologists performed a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), commonly known as coronary angioplasty. It turns out that Colon had 100 percent blockage in his left main artery, 40 percent in his right coronary artery, and 99 percent blockage in a secondary artery. The team was able to open up the arteries by performing an angioplasty, where a balloon is inserted and inflated to restore blood flow and a stent is set in place at the site of blockage to permanently open the artery.

Colon was out of the hospital two to three days after this procedure.

The total time from when Colon entered the ER at West Marion until his arteries were reopened with angioplasty at Ocala Regional was 84 minutes. The gold standard door-to-balloon time is 90 minutes. Any time after that the patient risks severe muscle damage to the heart. Colon has always been fit, and it turns out that all those trips to the gym saved his life. "I'm very lucky. The type of heart attack I had is called the widow maker. My body did a natural bypass where the veins detoured and went around the blockage to supply blood to the heart. This happened because I'm physically fit." Since that day, Colon has not smoked another cigarette.

Of his cardiologists, Prem Singh, MD, and Paul Urban, MD, Colon has nothing but good things to say. "I see them on a regular basis and I definitely feel like they are looking out for me and making sure my heart is still going strong." "My experience at West Marion and Ocala Regional was great. I'm an easy guy, so I didn't really have any issues. People were coming in and constantly making sure I was OK.

Even the food was good," says Colon. If I have an option of hospitals, I choose Ocala Regional or West Marion." Now Colon is on the mend. "I go to cardiac rehab and haven't had any pain. I've actually been doing great. After surgery, I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to do my normal activities, but my doctors are monitoring my health. I joined Health to You and have started taking exercise classes and learning about my health. I want to get my health back on track," he explains.

At the end of the day, family comes first for Colon. "I love my wife and two daughters. I'm glad I'm here for them. That's the one thing I'm thankful for."