It was a typical late summer day for Bob Mask, then age 40.
He attended a niece’s birthday party, played around in the pool with his young son and had dinner afterwards with family and friends. A few hours later, though, everything changed. “I woke up in the middle of the night light-headed, dizzy and short of breath,” he recalls. Then he felt a tingling sensation in his chest. “It felt like when your arm or hand goes to sleep, and it didn’t go away. That’s when I knew something wasn’t right.” Bob’s girlfriend, Carri Serpa, drove him to the emergency room at Orange Coast Memorial a few blocks away where doctors confirmed he was having a heart attack.
A Family History
Just a month before, Bob’s sister had emergency heart surgery. “She was only 41 and her triple bypass came out of the blue,” says Bob. “Her doctor said the rest of the family should get themselves checked out. I was going to, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. Then, I had my own heart attack.” Fortunately for Bob, he’d come to the right place. With a wide range of specialized cardiac services and a team of dedicated specialists, Orange Coast Memorial was ready for the emergency.
An EKG confirmed Bob’s heart attack. Within minutes, the cardiac team was activated and ready to go. Bob was rushed to the cardiac catheterization lab for a balloon angioplasty to unclog the blocked arteries causing his heart attack.
“With a heart attack, time is of the essence. The faster we can get someone to treatment, the better the chances for a positive outcome,” says Steven Schiff, M.D., medical director of invasive cardiovascular services at Orange Coast Memorial. The “door-to-balloon time”—the time between a heart-attack patient’s arrival in the ER and the time he or she has an angioplasty— is critical. “Our goal is a door-to-balloon time of 90 minutes or less,” says Dr. Schiff.
Along with balloon angioplasty, Bob needed two stents. These small, mesh-like devices are placed inside a coronary artery to hold it open. “Everyone on the team knew exactly what to do,” Bob says. “I arrived at the ER around 4:30 or 5 in the morning, and by 7:30 I’d had angioplasty and was eating breakfast. It was amazing.”
Orange Coast Memorial’s cardiac capabilities are about to get even better with the opening of a state-of-the-art hybrid cardiovascular interventional suite, which combines a cardiac catheterization lab with a cardiac operating room. “Now, if an angioplasty patient suddenly needs open-heart surgery, we’re able to perform the procedure in the same room without delay,” says Dr. Schiff. The new facility also enables interventional cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons to work collaboratively on other procedures such as the repair of congenital heart defects.
Orange Coast’s new Patient Care Pavilion also houses a full range of outpatient heart services. In addition to comprehensive cardiovascular testing that ranges from EKGs to 64-slice CT scans, there’s a fully equipped cardiac rehabilitation facility.
“Early screening and diagnosis of heart disease can help reduce the risk of a heart attack later,” notes Robert Greenfield, M.D., medical director of noninvasive cardiovascular services at Orange Coast Memorial. “That’s why it’s so important to know and understand if you’re at risk.”
Bob couldn’t agree more. “I feel like I’ve been given a second chance,” he says. He can’t change his family history, but he’s doing what he can to improve his odds by changing his diet, losing weight and exercising more. “I’m so grateful for the care I received—and so is my little boy.”