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Heart Survivor Story - Patton Brantley

Patton BrantleyThe term family history is thrown around a lot, but Patton Brantley has lived it. His grandfather died of a heart attack at age 42, his uncle had a heart attack, and his dad had a quadruple bypass. Still, at age 36, he wasn’t worried -- he was physically active and took care of himself.

On December 27, 2014, he was ironing a shirt, getting ready to head out to celebrate his brother’s birthday. What he describes as an unnatural feeling rushed over him, he turned as pale as a ghost, and began to sweat profusely. Any other 36-year-old may have tried to brush it off, but because of his family history, Patton immediately thought it could be a heart attack.

He and his wife Kerri’s oldest child, Brant, was a baby at the time. When Patton told her they had to go to the ER at Baton Rouge General, she asked if she had time to change the baby, to which he replied a resounding “no.”

Fifty-six minutes later, Patton had two stents placed to open one artery that was 100% blocked and a second that was 90% blocked. Within an hour, his life had changed forever. The day before he had played basketball for two hours, only later learning that his body had gotten conditioned to working without a fully functioning heart.

From the ER to the cath lab, he remembers everything being in perfect sync. The team of staff moved like clockwork to get him prepped for the procedure, giving him a sense of calm. Afterwards, he was in the ICU for two days. He remains grateful for the staff’s support beyond his physical condition -- their reassurance that he would still be able to be active once he recovered (maybe even more active, with a properly functioning heart!). The therapists came in to start his rehab nearly right away, and their gentle nudge gave him the confidence that it was ok to get moving.

Though he bounced back physically, the emotional element was a slower process. For the first year he says he was nervous about every little thing. He recalls more than one time having Kerri drive him to sit in the parking lot at Baton Rouge General, just in case, until he could be reassured from his doctors that all was ok.

In hindsight, Patton knows calling 9-1-1 would have been the best option, as paramedics can start treatment in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Because he acted quickly, though, he was thankful to have minimal damage. And back to that family history. Not only should you know it, but be proactive because of it, he tells people. And if you feel like something is off, don’t waste time second-guessing yourself – minutes really do matter.