Cheryl’s Story

Charles O’Shaughnessy, MD and Cheryl Ryan in the lobby of UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute

Four Years Post-Heart Attack and Still Going Strong

Grateful for the care she received, a local woman recalls the frightening event that almost took her life

Cheryl Ryan, 71, of Elyria, has always been active. Even after retiring from a 40-year career in insurance, she took Zumba classes and walked 5-7 miles nearly every day of the week. But, on July 23, 2016, she woke up in the middle of the night with a “heaviness” on her chest. Initially, she chalked it up to stress and being a generally nervous person. But, soon thereafter, the pressure she felt indicated otherwise. So, she asked her husband to take her to the hospital. His decision to call 9-1-1 instead saved her life.

Heart Stops Beating

Elyria Fire Department #4 arrived at their home within minutes and began evaluating Cheryl’s condition. Although she was able to walk out of her home and into the ambulance, shortly after she arrived at the emergency department at University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center, her heart stopped beating.

UH Elyria emergency physicians were waiting for Cheryl and performed CPR on her while UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute interventional cardiologist Charles O’Shaughnessy, MD, prepared to perform a heart catheterization. Cheryl’s left anterior descending artery (LAD) – the largest coronary artery in the body – was 100 percent blocked with plaque. To correct the issue, Dr. O’Shaughnessy performed an emergency PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention) with stent implantation. A second procedure was performed two days later to implant stents to restore blood flow to two of Cheryl’s other coronary arteries that were severely blocked.

Don’t Wait – Call 9-1-1

“Cheryl’s case demonstrates the need for getting immediate attention if you or a loved one are experiencing signs of a heart attack,” said Dr. O’Shaughnessy. “If she would have waited longer, she would have gone into cardiac arrest at home, where medical attention wasn’t readily available.” He continued, saying, “It’s also very important to call 9-1-1 rather than drive yourself or a loved one to the emergency room. Paramedics are trained to begin care immediately and continue that care en route to the ER. If Cheryl’s abnormal heart rhythm happened in car, she may not have survived.”

Still Going Strong Four Years Later

Luckily, Cheryl received the immediate, life-saving care she needed at UH Elyria Medical Center, and today has no post-cardiac event issues. Just three days after her heart attack, Cheryl was discharged home. A short three weeks later, she was back to walking her dog. Today, she is back to walking 5-7 miles, 5-6 days per week. She sees Dr. O’Shaughnessy twice per year for routine check-ups.

“I have been going to UH Elyria for 50 years,” said Cheryl. “My husband and I, and our entire family extend our gratitude to the Elyria Fire Department, UH Elyria emergency department staff, the eighth floor cardiovascular unit and North Ohio Heart staff. I know I am alive today as a result of the efforts and quick actions of these dedicated and compassionate men and women. Elyria is very fortunate to have these top-notch emergency and UH medical professionals.”

For an appointment with Dr. O’Shaughnessy or any of the other cardiovascular experts at UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute at UH Elyria Medical Center, please call 216-844-3800.