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Healthwatch 16: Hunter Heart

THOMPSON -- Heart attacks often happen in the middle of doing something strenuous--shoveling snow or hunting, for example.

One man in Susquehanna County wanted to share what happened to him to warn others and to thank the people who saved his life.

John Butts, 61, was lucky that he lived to come back and hug the nursing and tech team at Wayne Memorial Hospital in Honesdale.

The man from Thompson, in Susquehanna County, told us what happened November 28, the first day of rifle deer hunting season after he got an 8-point buck with his daughter, son, and son-in-law.

"They came over, we took care of the deer. They dragged the deer up the hill; all I did was carry my rifle. Got up to the hill and I was totally exhausted," Butts recalled.

A few minutes later, the chest pains started.

"(I) had a hard (time) breathing, got a real sharp pain here in my arm, cold sweat. I knew I was having it," he said.

In the woods with no cell service, John told his family to take him to the township building a few miles away, where he got an ambulance to take him to Wayne Memorial, and into Dr. Khalid Manzar's care.

"Lucky for him, he made it in time. Time is the most important part when someone has a heart attack," said Dr. Manzar.

John was taken immediately to the hospital's heart and vascular center, open just a few months.

Dr. Manzar says one of John's arteries was 99 percent blocked.

Using a catheter, led into the artery through a tiny hole in the groin, the team removed the clot and inserted a stent to keep the artery open.

John left the hospital just a few days later and says he feels better than he has in a long time. He's even gone hunting since.

Making sure you don't go it alone is important. The faster you get help, the better. As Dr. Manzar said several times, time is muscle.

"Please don't be alone when you're hunting. These things usually happen after heavy exertion like hunting, snow shoveling, lawn mowing," said Dr. Manzar.

John says he never had high blood pressure, but he does admit to being a three-pack-a-day smoker. He says he has since cut back to half a pack a day and is doing everything he can to quit completely.