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Speaking Up May Save Your Life

On Oct. 3, 2021, Wes Dunn, a machine operator at a local manufacturing plant, was working his usual shift when he began experiencing mild aching in his chest. He described it as a sort of burning sensation. Dunn immediately turned to the folks in the emergency response team at the plant.

“I called one of my buddies on the emergency response team and asked him to meet me in the nurse's area to check me out,” Dunn said. “I told him I was having chest pain and that something's going on. He ended up calling an ambulance for me. And they took me up to Hillcrest Medical Center and Hillcrest admitted me and said that I had a 90-plus percent blockage. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for everybody involved. Everyone did the right thing and got me where I needed to be.”

Dunn experienced a mild heart attack at work that prompted the hospital visit. While he was admitted the next day, he experienced another massive heart attack.

Despite the trauma events, Dunn was discharged from the hospital on Oct. 6, with follow-up orders from Oklahoma Heart Institute. At 55 years old, Dunn says he feels better than ever.

“I’ve been seeing Dr. Jessica Griffith and I'm also in cardiac rehab,” he said. “I feel like I’m 30 again.  I was even out hiking the Ouachita Mountains.”

Even in the most uncertain circumstances, Dunn credits the staff, nurses and doctors at Oklahoma Heart Institute for keeping his spirits high.

“Everyone was so personable, very easy to talk to. I really enjoyed my stay,” he said with a laugh. “I mean it. It was kind of like an adventure. I’ve never had a lot of problems with health or anything, so everything about this was kind of new for me. And then, even during the procedure, I was awake through the whole thing, so the nurses and I were talking. We were literally laughing and joking while they were working. It was great.”

Through a tough year, including the passing of several family members and his own difficult COVID-19 diagnosis, Dunn has kept a positive outlook through it all.

“The people that were there with me, taking care of me during that time made all the difference,” he said. “Not just with my care, which they did a great job with, but also by making me feel comfortable.”

According to the American Heart Association, many people experience no symptoms before having a heart attack or stroke. A series of simple screenings by trained experts in cardiovascular disease can identify problems before symptoms develop. For more information, please visit oklahomaheart.com/lifesavingscreenings.