In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

July 25, 2019

Double Trouble: Patient Bounces Back From Consecutive Cardiac Events

By In the Loop
Keith Glasshoff

Keith Glasshoff had just survived one cardiac event when the unexpected happened during his cardiac rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.


Surviving a cardiac event once is something to be celebrated. Doing it twice in the same year is some kind of superhero stuff. But as the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reports, that's just what Keith "the comeback kid" Glasshoff seems to be made of.

Keith's first cardiac event came shortly after shoveling eight inches of April snow from his daughter's home in Milwaukee, home, the paper reports. "I didn't feel any pain," he says. "I just felt different across the top of my chest."

Just different enough that Keith called his primary care physician, Randall Casper, M.D., at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, who promptly scheduled a stress test. During the test, the paper reports that Keith had trouble catching his breath, which led Dr. Casper to refer him to cardiologist Diana Trifa, M.D. She suspected Keith had a blockage in his arteries. A coronary angiogram would confirm that suspicion. "Keith had severe blockages," Dr. Trifa tells the paper. "He was at risk of congestive heart failure or a heart attack."

To alleviate that risk, interventional cardiologist D. Fearghas O'Cochlain, M.D., placed three stents in Keith's coronary arteries and performed two balloon angioplasties to restore blood flow to his heart. "After the procedure, Dr. O'Cochlain told my wife, Gretchen, 'Your husband is a very lucky man,'" Keith tells the paper.

His luck would be tested again, the Leader-Telegram reports, during a "voluntary" third phase of his cardiac rehabilitation. That "funny feeling" in his chest returned while he was on a treadmill. "My vision went snowy white, like you would see if you tuned your TV to a channel that was off the air," Keith says.

Keith "collapsed to the floor." Two cardiac rehab nurses, trailed by cardiologist Daniel Kincaid, M.D., began performing CPR. "Keith was pretty lucky he was here in the clinic when he had his cardiac arrest," Dr. Kincaid says. "Several nurses responded within a minute. They are the heroes here."

Those heroes kept Keith's heart pumping until Dr. Kincaid was able to shock it back into rhythm with an automated external defibrillator. Their next concern, the paper reports, was determining whether they'd been quick enough to prevent Keith from suffering brain damage. Dr. Kincaid, who the paper reports knew Keith "from serving together for years on the hospital board of directors and the Eau Claire Police and Fire Commission," says Keith soon put those fears to rest. "As I was checking for a pulse, worrying whether he was going to wake up, I heard him say, 'Dan, is that you I hear?'" Dr. Kincaid says.

Keith's cardiac recurrence was traced back to "abnormal healing" at the end of one of his stents that Dr. Trifa tells the paper had caused an "80% blockage" of blood flow. The problem, she says, "is not common," but "one of the first things" cardiologists look for when symptoms return immediately after a procedure.

Once again back on his feet, Keith, a pilot of more than 50 years, tells the Leader-Telegram he's committed to giving his second round of cardiac rehab more time and focus. "The first time, I was in a hurry to pass phase three of a special stress test, so I could get back in the air," he says. "I'm less intent on that this time. I enjoy coming to rehab. I'm making good progress."

You can read more about Keith here. Then share your comments below before you use the social media tools to share this story with others.


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Tags: Dr. Daniel Kincaid, Dr. Diana Trifa, Dr. Randall Casper, Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Patient Stories

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