The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

February 27, 2014

Camanche man on the rebound

By Samantha Pidde Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — This is the fifth and final story of the Clinton Herald's series to commemorate American Heart Month.

CLINTON On April 6, Todd Boyer died for almost a minute.

The 44-year-old Camanche man never expected he could have a heart attack at his age, much less two in the same day. However, it is exactly what occurred on that April day.

When Boyer left his Camanche home that day to go to the Riverside Casino with his buddies, he did not have any of the symptoms people typically associate with a heart attack. Throughout the day, he had no chest pains or tingling in his left arm. He did feel like he might be getting a cold and lunch did not appeal to him at all.

"I was actually having the heart attack all day," Todd said.

After they gambled a while, he drove the group back to Clinton. After he dropped everyone off, he returned to his home.

"As I walked through the door it just felt like somebody had dumped buckets and buckets of water on me. I was just sweating profusely," he said. "No chest pains, nothing like that. No symptoms, except maybe my teeth and my jawline hurt a little bit."

The Camanche ambulance quickly arrived; emergency personnel assessed the situation and gave him some nitroglycerin. The emergency responders called ahead to Mercy Medical Center North's emergency room to have staff waiting.

"On the way to the hospital, I was making a lot of deals with the man upstairs," Boyer said. "We're not a religious family, but when something like that happens, you try whatever you can do to make sure you see the next day."

Once at the hospital, Dr. Ali Albaghdadi and his staff put three stents into his heart, going through his groin area. After the procedure, he was taken to a room to rest.

Unfortunately, in the middle of the night, one of the stents became blocked and he experienced another heart attack.

"I was actually a goner for a minute. They started doing CPR; revived me," he said.

Albaghdadi was called back in to place an additional stent. Boyer vaguely remembers his brother and 12-year-old daughter at the hospital that day.

"She was scared, obviously, terrified that something was happening to her dad," he said.

She still gets on him to make sure he is eating well and doing what he should.

After leaving the hospital, Boyer completed rehabilitation and various stress tests. A month after the attack, Albaghdadi put in a fifth stent, this time through his wrist.

"The technology is incredible nowadays. There's so much they can do," he said.

The whole ordeal took Boyer by surprise, even though, he admitted, it maybe should not have. His father suffered a heart attack in his late 40s and died while on a heart transplant list in his 50s.

"You can control your nicotine. You can control your exercise. But you can't control your genes. That's huge," he said.

He attributes his success to the Camanche ambulance crew and the staff at Mercy. He said that sometimes Clinton medical staff are forgotten or dismissed.

However, for him, they really were wonderful, he said: "Without them, I wouldn't be here."

Since his heart attack, Todd has not drastically changed his lifestyle. He has started to exercise and slimmed down, but he has not sworn off all soda or unhealthy food. He said the key for him is moderation.

He actually feels better than he has in years, joking that he feels more like a healthy 25-year-old than a healthy 45-year-old.

"Looking back, how I felt before I had the heart attack compared to how I feel now is absolutely incredible," he said. "I didn't have a lot of energy before that, not a lot of stamina. And now, I just feel revived."

He sleeps better and since his heart attack, his cholesterol is half what it used to be.

When people hear Boyer's story, they usually ask if he remembers seeing anything in that minute when he coded. He does not. However, it did impact him.

"To be that close to death, it does make you appreciate life a lot more," he said.

Todd encourages anyone with heart attack risk factors or a family history of heart disease to consult with their doctors for an evaluation. He also warns anyone feeling off to not dismiss it just because he or she does not have the "typical" heart attack symptoms.

"Because believe me, I didn't know what I was in for when I woke up on April 6," he said. "I got lucky. Not a lot of people get that second opportunity."