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A cardiac arrest he can't even remember

Patient Spotlight February 19, 2014 By Main Line Health

When Shane McCrystal woke up in Bryn Mawr Hospital, all he remembered from earlier in the day was pulling his car over to the side of the road after he felt pain while he was driving. For the past week, he had been experiencing some unusual symptoms: he was tired, anxious, and had heartburn and pain in his left arm. But he hadn’t expected what would happen.

On June 21, McCrystal pulled over the car after he started experiencing severe pain. Safely pulled over to the side of the road, he went into cardiac arrest. A bystander spotted McCrystal and motioned for help, waving over a nurse who happened to be at the scene. She called 911 and began CPR on McCrystal immediately to keep him stable until paramedics from Radnor Fire and Ambulance arrived and performed CPR and he was transported to Bryn Mawr Hospital.

Once he arrived in the Bryn Mawr Hospital, McCrystal’s heart stopped again. Doctors in the emergency department quickly revived him, rushing him to the cardiac cath lab, where cardiologist Antonis Pratsos, MD, inserted two stents into one of McCrystal’s arteries, which was completely blocked.

Although his life had been saved, it would be a few months until McCrystal could say he was starting to feel himself again.

“I was sore and weak for at least six weeks after my surgery,” he says. “I’m still experiencing shortness of breath.”

A young man, McCrystal didn’t have an extensive history of heart problems, but was a smoker and had lost his father to a massive heart attack at age 60. Now, four months after his surgery, McCrystal has made significant steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

“I quit smoking that day, and I’ve started eating healthier, exercising, and seeing my doctor more regularly,” he says.

McCrystal also recently began cardiac rehab to help him gain back his strength and help address his shortness of breath.

In addition to crediting his ‘guardian angel’ nurse for her immediate help at the scene, McCrystal says he cannot put into words the difference that Bryn Mawr Hospital made in his life.

“I was treated by such wonderful doctors and nurses,” he says. “Everyone was helpful, hard-working, dedicated, caring, and considerate. They kept my wife in the loop every step of the way, and made her feel comfortable and confident that I would have a speedy recovery. I would recommend Bryn Mawr Hospital to anyone. The team there saved my life.”