When a Heart Breaks
By Teara Walters
When Carol and I got the invitation to be the wine sponsors for the Denver Heart Ball, we were thrilled. But it was also bittersweet. For us, working with the American Heart Association is an honor, but also a need. A need to find answers, and to help to find cures, treatments and better screening for heart related conditions. For us, it was personal.
In 2014 two major things happened. First, our brother Richard who went by Rudy, got married. It was quite possibly the best day of his life. He laughed, and danced and never stopped smiling at his beautiful bride. For many of us, if we had known it would be one of the last times we would see him, we would have danced and laughed a little longer.
Two and a half months later, Rudy had a heart attack in his sleep at the age of 29. He was fit, active and by all accounts a healthy (although a bit stressed) young man. He had been battling the “flu” (so the Dr. told him) for a few days, but otherwise had no other indicators to what was about to happen.
Rudy was non-responsive when the paramedics arrived, and it took nearly 20 mins to resuscitate him. By this point, he had been hypoxic for nearly an hour. Rudy was put on life support in the ICU in Novi’s St. John’s Providence Park Hospital. For a week the Doctors tried to understand how a 29 year old with no high risk lifestyle factors could end up having a heart attack.
In the end, our family made a painful decision to say goodbye to our brother. When the final results came out, Rudy had 3 fully blocked arteries and a 4th artery that was 75% blocked. But how? The best anyone could guess is that he had a genetic condition that led to his heart being in the condition it was.
Not knowing why this happened to Rudy is one of the most painful things our family lives with daily. Not knowing what could have been done. Can you even test for something like this? How do you know when to push harder with Doctors for more of an explanation when something doesn’t seem right? This is why we chose to partner with the American Heart Association. Heart disease is not just an older individuals problem. It can happen to anyone. The American Heart Association is working hard to provide education sooner and developing research and screening to stop this disease.
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