Today is the fourth in a series of articles, published each Thursday, focusing on February’s American Heart Month.
MORRISON, Ill. -- It was a quiet Thursday night, about an hour after having dinner at a nearby restaurant, that Randy Betts began to notice something wasn’t quite right.
The 57-year-old thought the feeling of fullness in his chest was a result of eating too much. As the minutes ticked by, the sensation hadn’t cleared.
“I went to bed, but I couldn’t sleep and I started to feel worse,” he says of the events that unfolded Jan. 9. He decided to get up, take an aspirin and have a soft drink, something he thought would settle his stomach. It didn’t work, and instead he began to become even sicker.
“I started to think there was something going on in my chest,” he said. “I couldn’t get a full breath. It felt like someone was standing on my chest.”
By 11 p.m., Betts was in the emergency room at CGH Medical Center in Sterling, Ill., suspecting that he was having a heart attack. While he had never had heart issues in the past, his mother started having heart problems, attributed to deterioration of the heart muscle, in her late 50s. She had had 27 heart stents put in up until her death last year at the age of 75 as the result of a stroke.
It turned out his suspicion that he was having a heart attack was right, confirmed by heart tests and blood work.
But the news still took him by surprise. After all, he had just had medical tests prior to carpal tunnel surgery just one month earlier. A co-owner of a construction company, he was still off work recuperating from that surgery at the time of his heart attack.