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Bob Zimmerman didn’t quite feel right on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, but he went to work anyway at Classic Motors in Naperville, the auto repair company he’s owned since 1992.
“I was kind of lethargic and people around me said I looked gray,” says Zimmerman.
In fact, he told a friend, who was also a nurse, that he wasn’t going to be able to have her car ready because he wasn’t feeling well. She asked what was wrong and he told her his shoulders hurt and he was throwing up.
The friend urgently told Zimmerman to go to the emergency room (ER) because she suspected he was having a heart attack.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States. In fact, it’s the cause of one in four male deaths. And, more than half of men who suddenly die from a coronary artery disease had no previous symptoms.
The friend persisted in her efforts, eventually reaching Zimmerman’s wife of 39 years, Cyndi, who went home, told Bob to get in the van and they went to Edward Hospital’s ER.
“Bob had severe heart dysfunction when he came in,” says Dr. Anand Ramanathan, an independent interventional cardiologist on the medical staff at Edward Hospital.
Tests confirmed Bob’s left anterior descending (LAD) coronary artery — known as the “widowmaker” — was 100 percent blocked. Dr. Ramanathan inserted a stent in the artery to open it.
After the stent was inserted, Zimmerman thought he’d be able to go home.
“Dr. Ramanathan said, ‘Once every couple of thousand times something happens, so we’d like to keep you for a few days,’” recalls Zimmerman. “I was one of those two thousand I think.”
Something, in fact, did happen. Zimmerman went into cardiac arrest multiple times. Each time, doctors and nurses brought him back. Zimmerman was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit, where his family was told that he was lucky to be alive, but could still pass at any time.
Doctors put Zimmerman into a medically induced coma and used a cooling treatment to lower his body temperature to prevent brain damage which can occur during cardiac arrest because the brain may not get enough blood.
Zimmerman woke up on Dec. 26. In all, he spent 30 days at Edward Hospital, followed by nine days at a rehabilitation facility to further recover and rebuild strength.
“One nurse kept referring to me as the ‘Miracle Man,’” says Zimmerman, who thanks the Edward staff for saving his life and wants people to know how wonderful all the nurses were.
“It’s surprising to a lot of folks. At a community hospital here in Naperville, people don’t expect the level of care that we’re able to provide,” says Dr. Ramanathan.
“He’s back to being his old self,” says Cyndi. “If we had been anywhere else, the chances would not have been what we had. It saved his life.”
Watch the video: Bob Zimmerman tells his story.
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Learn more about Edward-Elmhurst Health cardiac care.
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