With arm pain and a sudden sweating, Alan knew he should turn his car into the emergency room he spotted nearby.

A life-altering decision

Alan Mortimer Sentara Lake Ridge Snvmc_Heart Attack Alan Mortimer Sentara Lake Ridge Snvmc_Heart Attack Alan Mortimer Sentara Lake Ridge Snvmc_Heart Attack

Alan Mortimer’s arm hurt. The 53-year-old construction inspector for Prince William County was having pain that he attributed to a pinched nerve.

“I’ve been in construction my entire life,” he said. “I’m used to back problems and muscle pain. But on that day I just couldn’t shake the pain in my arm, so I left work to go lie down.”

While driving home, Alan stopped at the red light on Minnieville Road and Summit School Road. He lit a cigarette and then began sweating profusely; he was drenched within seconds.

"When the light turned green, I made a left and then decided to turn into Sentara Lake Ridge emergency room on the corner,” Alan said. “I knew something wasn’t right.” 

You’re having a heart attack right now

“When I walked to the front desk and explained to the woman what was wrong, she said, ‘forget about the paperwork – I’m taking you back immediately,’” explained Alan. “About a minute later they hooked me up to the EKG machine and the nurse said, ‘you’re having a heart attack right now.”

The staff at Sentara Lake Ridge then gave Alan blood thinning medicine and called for an immediate transfer to Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center. Once there, he was whisked to the Sentara Heart and Vascular Center where he was treated by cardiologist Dr. Kambeez Berenji.

“When Mr. Mortimer arrived at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center we took him immediately to the cath lab and inserted a stent to open up his arteries,” said Dr. Berenji. “Time is of the essence when someone is having a cardiac event and in his case everything went very quickly. It only took 61 minutes from the time he walked into Sentara Lake Ridge Emergency Room until we were finished placing his stent at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.”

According to Dynette Rombough, RN, the team leader of the Sentara Lake Ridge emergency room, teamwork is what made the difference.

“It’s about the team working together for the benefit of the patient,” said Dynette. “Everything went like clockwork and everything was in place.”

Alan agreed: “I can’t thank them enough for taking care of me that day. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be here. From the first person I saw until the last, everyone was professional, friendly and genuinely concerned about me. Dynette even came and visited me at the hospital to check up on me; I really appreciated that.”

It’s important to remember that heart attack symptoms are not the same for everyone. Alan said that he had no chest pain or shortness of breath. He instinctively knew that something was not right and thought he may need medical care.

He also has quit smoking – for good!


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