Lifesaving Heart Care at Ingalls

Gets University Park Woman Back on Track

It began as a routine workout on a sunny June afternoon. Fifty-five-year-old Peggy Bennett of University Park was running two miles to prepare for an upcoming health and fitness evaluation for the Air Force Reserves.

Push-ups, sit-ups and a one- or two-mile run were part of the physically fit major’s training regimen, and had been for nearly three decades.

“I felt fine afterwards,” she remembers. “I came home and drank a frozen protein drink.” A few minutes later, however, the mother of two felt a burning sensation at the base of her throat. Annoyed more than anything, Peggy wrote it off as indigestion. Especially since she’d eaten shortly before her run. Fatigued, she sat down in front of the TV and finished her drink. Hours later, Peggy woke up feeling nauseated. To her surprise, she vomited and began sweating.

Thinking she’d caught a flu virus, she crawled in bed, too tired to do anything but sleep. Rest, she reassured herself, was what she needed most.

For the next several days, the normally energetic lab technician felt drained. Unable to go to work, she stayed in bed and subsisted on heartburn medication and fluid-replenishing drinks. Peggy’s two grown daughters became increasingly alarmed and urged her to go the doctor.

“It hadn’t occurred to me that being in bed for two or three days was unusual,” she added. “But that’s not really like me, and my daughters knew it.”

When she wasn’t feeling any better by the fourth day, Peggy drove herself to Ingalls Urgent Aid in Flossmoor. She described her symptoms, and doctors there immediately ordered an electrocardiogram (EKG) of her heart.

To her shock, the test revealed she’d had a heart attack. Urgent Aid staff arranged for immediate ambulance transport to Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey.

When Peggy arrived, she was whisked to the cardiac catheterization lab, where an angiogram confirmed two completely blocked coronary arteries. It was a miracle she’d survived for four days without any medical care.

“I’m sure I had the heart attack that very first day,” she said. “I was at home for four days. That’s when I knew that God had played a really big part in all of this. He was there with me the entire time.”

To reduce the workload on her weakened heart and increase blood flow, cardiologists at Ingalls placed Peggy on an intra-aortic balloon pump.

She remained on the pump for several days before u ndergoing double bypass surgery; following a brief hospital stay, recovery at home and several weeks of cardiac rehabilitation, Peggy resumed her job feeling better than ever.

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