For the Miami Valley Today
TROY — Sam Silvers says there’s no doubt that he owes his life to Upper Valley Medical Center’s heart catheterization lab and cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation program, along with a strong faith in God.
Silvers’ life was almost cut short March 19, 2019, after a pain in his upper left shoulder led to a call for Troy Fire Department paramedics.
Within minutes, Silvers experienced a severe heart attack and was revived repeatedly on his way to and at UVMC. A short time later, he received two stents in the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab.
The whirlwind evening came as more than a surprise to Silvers, a Troy resident and soccer referee who never noticed any indications of heart issues.
Silvers began experiencing the shoulder pain at home while he and his youngest daughter were watching “Jeopardy!” on television. He initially thought he may have pulled something but when the pain worsened, he headed upstairs to talk to his wife, Debra, a registered nurse.
When his condition didn’t improve in a short time, the ambulance was called.
“I remember going two blocks down our street, turning on another street and a guy (paramedic) asked if I ever had nitroglycerine for any heart problems. I said, ‘No.’ I had never had any heart problems, never any indication, nothing,” he said.
The paramedic said they’d place a pill under his tongue. “The next thing I know. I woke up on the table in the cath lab. I came to find out my heart stopped … I coded in the ambulance and at the hospital. They had to use the paddles 12 times and CPR twice,” Silvers said. “A nurse in the cath lab said, ‘You about went to meet Jesus tonight,’” Silvers said. “I am ready, but it must not be my time.”
Once the stents were in place, he was transported to Miami Valley Hospital — going into cardiac arrest again on the way. Doctors determined more surgery was not needed but worked to adjust his medications.
Silvers had a widow maker, a blockage of the heart’s LAD artery. His challenges didn’t end with the placement of stents.
In June, an echocardiogram found a low ejection fraction rate, a condition that doctors initially thought might require a heart transplant. Subsequent testing showed the ejection fraction rate had improved, eliminating the need for a transplant. However, Silvers needed a defibrillator/pacemaker to even out the heart rate, receiving it in September at Miami Valley Hospital.
Six weeks later, he began the UVMC cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation program.
The staff educated Silvers on his risk factors for heart disease, developed and monitored his exercise routine, and discussed his concerns related to returning to work. The dietician also provided education on a heart healthy diet and managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Silvers has made new friends and enjoys the camaraderie.
“We have a lot of fun, we kid each other all the time, and yet they take very good care of us,” Silvers said.
“Between the cath lab and this place (cardiac rehab), they have literally saved my life … “People in the squad did an amazing job, people in the cath lab did an amazing job, the people here in rehab are great.”
Silvers, 63, has returned to work as an engineer at Collins Aerospace in Troy and “feels really good now.” He plans to continue participating in the cardiac rehab program.
His advice to others? “Try to stay as healthy as you can. Eat properly and exercise properly,” he said. “On the other hand, you can do everything you can and if it could hit, it will hit. It is easier to get back in shape again if you were already in good shape.”
From his heart journey, Silvers said he learned to listen to his doctors and nurses. “They know what they are doing. Pay attention to what they are saying whether you like it or not. Their goal is to get you healthy again, but maybe not as quickly as you want it to be,” he said.
For more information on UVMC cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, call (937) 440-4677.