From Stress Test to Life-Saving Stents

From Stress Test to Life-Saving Stents

By Nicole Flood

Shortness of breath and the occasional tightening of the chest were concerning symptoms for Lisa Coulter, 56, of California, Mo. Lisa has COPD and a history of coronary artery disease with previous stents inserted in 2002 and 2007. 

Lisa decided it was time to talk with her doctor about the worsening symptoms she had been experiencing for over 6 months. That’s when her physician, Nathan Granneman, MD, referred her to Mozow Zuidema, MD, at Boone Hospital Center’s Cardiac Diagnostic Center for a stress test on December 26, 2018. 

On the day of the stress test, Lisa didn’t feel well during the drive to Columbia with her husband and had to have her window down most of the drive.

“I didn’t get to do the stress test at the diagnostic center because of how bad I was,” says Lisa. “When I got in the elevator it was to the point where I was in tears from how tight my chest was. I pushed my way up to the desk to tell them I needed help and I started to panic. The nurses went straight to work and took my blood pressure and it was 200/114. They didn’t talk much, called the ER, put me in a wheelchair and took me straight over to the hospital.”

Once in the Emergency Room, the nurses gave Lisa nitroglycerin to help with her tightened chest and pain. Since Lisa was already fasting for her stress test, she was able to go right in for a cath lab procedure. 

“I was having pain and tightness in my chest because my artery was clogged,” said Lisa. “They put in my stent and started to wheel me back to my room and my EKG started to do weird things, and I began to have chest pain again. They took me back to the cath lab and discovered I had a blood clot forming where the stent was placed. They went in and placed a stent end-to-end with one of my older stents and got the blood clot out.”

Lisa stayed in the hospital 4 days after her emergency procedure. “There was no hesitation in my treatment. I was very impressed with that during this scary time. They saved my life!” 

A Helping Hand through Kindness

“Everything with my treatment was so great! All the nurses and staff – Jason, Kendra, Richard and Tabitha to name a few, even the guy who fixed my blinds was so kind to me,” says Lisa.

From the night nurse who made jokes with Lisa about enjoying a snack at 1a.m.; to the dietitian who helped explain recipes and gave her ideas and books on how to change her diet to more heart-healthy alternatives; to Tabitha, who was great company and got her laughing; to the ICU nurse who was there every time she needed him and never made her feel bad about vomiting or knocking over an IV pole, Lisa is thankful. “That’s a good cardiac team up there – they were all so kind and encouraging.”

Lisa also is grateful to her doctor. “Dr. Zuidema is just amazing,” says Lisa. “I had never met her before and I always get nervous meeting a new doctor, but she has this great aura about her. She’s a great doctor and answered all of my questions and made sure I understood what they were doing.

“I had never been to Boone Hospital Center before,” says Lisa. “If you have heart problems and need them taken care of, that’s the place to be. I definitely was in the right place at the right time when the first event took place.” 

Back to Work

Because of Lisa’s coronary artery disease, she has a few other arteries her providers wanted to closely monitor and planned to treat with medication.  

Lisa was released to go back to work 2 weeks after her procedure. She was doing well and then one day began having shortness of breath and tightness in her chest again while bringing in a few groceries from the car. “I called Dr. Zuidema’s office and she said to come in and go to the cardiac cath lab. They put in 2 more stents on January 30th and I got to go home the next day,” says Lisa. “Again, everyone at Boone was great and so kind to me.”

Lisa went back to work on February 15 and is feeling great. She’s enjoying getting outside more, being back to work and spending time with her 6 grandchildren. She also loves to sing and is able to do her online karaoke again. “Before these events, I just hadn’t been feeling good and didn’t feel like even fixing my hair or going out because I was scared my chest would hurt. Now I’m looking forward to playing with the grandkids and getting out more this summer.”

“If I can help other people by sharing my story, it’s a good thing,” she adds. “I didn’t have a heart attack, I had clogged arteries that could have led to that. Everyone can have different symptoms. There are people who might be scared and are having similar symptoms. It’s better to go and find out. They certainly have helped me feel better and I’m so glad I went to get it checked out.”