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Paying Attention to Changes in His Body Saved Mike Grimm's Life

Mike Grim of Oskaloosa first noticed he had tightness in his chest and shortness of breath while he and his wife, Veronica, were walking their dog around the city square. 

With his wife’s encouragement, he went to the MHP Medical Group and was seen by Family Nurse Practitioner Chris Beaird, who ordered a number of tests. “All my tests came back normal, including my blood pressure and cholesterol levels,” Mike said.

Chris then ordered a stress echocardiogram with MHP Cardiac Rehab Nurse Renee Edgar. “We performed a stress echocardiogram, where ultrasound and exercise are used to determine if a person has compromised blood flow to their heart,” Renee explained. 

 “We took a resting picture of his heart with ultrasound. Electrodes were then placed on his chest so we could monitor his heart through an electrocardiogram or EKG, to see how his heart functioned during and after exertion or stress. I did not see any heart rhythm changes that indicated an emergent situation.” 

Mike said they were talking and finishing up when he passed out. Renee saw the situation differently.  “It is procedure to monitor a patient’s heart rate and blood pressure post test for several minutes. During this time I was talking to Mike and his wife, trying to figure out what could be causing his shortness of breath, when all of a sudden his heart went into ventricular fibrillation, which is a life threatening heart rhythm.”

Renee’s quick reaction made a huge difference. Knowing every second counts, the code blue alarm was pulled and chest compressions were started. MHP’s Code Blue team, consisting of respiratory therapists, emergency department physician and staff, as well as radiology staff, rushed to the department. “We used the defibrillator to shock his heart back into rhythm and ER staff inserted a tube into his airway, to assist with breathing,” Renee explained. 

Mike was transferred to Iowa Methodist in Des Moines, where he had an emergency heart angiogram performed. The arteries to his heart were 98% blocked, so Mike received two stents to keep the arteries open. Renee, who worked at Methodist for a number of years caring for patients after open heart surgery, said she knew Mike was in good hands. Once Mike was strong enough to return home, he was soon cleared to receive cardiac rehabilitation with Renee. 

Mike, was anxious to return to his job as a banker in Eddyville, so Renee adjusted her work schedule to allow Mike to receive cardiac rehab before going to work. “If someone wants cardiac rehab, I will do everything possible to help facilitate it,” Renee explained. “Mike came in for rehab in a suit and tennis shoes, so he could change shoes and go right to work after.”

Cardiac rehab helps patients lower their risk of future heart problems by making changes to improve their health. “I work with patients to create a personalized plan of care based on their ability and preference,” Renee explained. “We offer a professionally supervised program with exercise and education to help heart patients increase physical fitness and reduce the risk of future heart problems.”

“Renee was absolutely wonderful,” Mike said. “She met with me at 7 am and not only helped me increase the time I spent on the treadmill, but also showed me exercises to do at home and lined me up with a dietitian.”

Mike said he hasn’t had any heart problems since completing Cardiac Rehab, although he still carries nitroglycerin pills, just in case. “It makes me much more aware of my health,” Mike explains. “I’m so glad I listened to my wife and went to the doctor when I first felt symptoms in my body that were not normal.

“I am not surprised by the outstanding care I received at MHP, I’ve been a patient here since the 1980s, and currently  serve on the Board of Trustees because I believe in the care being provided here,” Mike explained. “The personnel caring for me never gave up, exhausting all possibilities and ultimately saving my life.”