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As an interventional cardiologist, a large part of my job is dealing with heart attacks and fixing the blocked arteries that cause them. I often hear the term “Widowmaker” from patients or their families who want to know if this is the type of heart attack they’re dealing with. People often refer to heart attacks as widow makers inaccurately, which generates a great deal of anxiety. Of course, I don’t blame them. No one wants to be dealing with something known as a Widow Maker! In this article, we will briefly review the blood supply to the heart, what happens in a heart attack, and an accurate definition the widow maker heart attack in order to gain a better understanding of the term the Widow Maker. To understand this better, make sure you also read ‘Did That Stent Save My Life?’ and ‘Should I Take An Aspirin Every Day?’.
There are three arteries that run over the surface of the heart and supply it with blood (see the diagram above.) There is one artery on the right side and two arteries on the left side of the heart. The one on the right is known as the right coronary. On the left side, which is the main side, we have the left anterior descending (LAD) that runs down the front of the heart and supplies the front and main wall, and then the left circumflex that supplies the side wall. When the main artery down the front of the heart (LAD) is totally blocked or has a critical blockage, right at the beginning of the vessel, it is known as the Widow Maker. (The medical term for this is a proximal LAD lesion.) No one knows exactly who came up with the term, but the reason they did is likely that if that artery is blocked right at the beginning of its course, then the whole artery after it goes down. This essentially means that the whole front wall of the heart goes down. As far as heart attacks go, this is a big one, with big consequences if not dealt with appropriately; it’s why we take it so seriously.
A heart attack generally occurs when there is a critical blockage in one or more of the arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood. Within minutes of the critical blockage occurring, the heart muscle stops working, and if blood flow is not restored within minutes to hours, the muscle typically dies. The consequences are often catastrophic. The heart attack may be large enough to lead to sudden death, and, unfortunately, many patients do not make it to hospital alive. For those that survive and make it to hospital, the outlook is certainly improved, but if the blood supply is not restored in a timely fashion, a scar replaces the once beating heart muscle and the heart is often irreversibly damaged. The good news is that if done in time, we can treat these lesions to good effect with the use of minimally invasive techniques such as stent placement (see the diagram below). Scientists are now investigating if this damage can be reversed by injecting stem cells into the area. Also, check out our article on the new disappearing stent.
If you look carefully at the first picture at the top of this article, you will notice there is an artery on the left side called the Left Main Artery. It supplies both the LAD and the Left circumflex, both of the left-sided arteries. Now imagine if that artery went down. It would lead to loss of blood supply to the entire left side (the main side), the front wall, and the side wall. As you can imagine, critical blockage of the Left Main coronary artery is the mother of all Widow Makers! A heart attack caused by this truly drives fear into cardiologists, surgeons, and patients alike, because if that goes down, go figure!
The Widow Maker Video
To help further explain the widowmaker, I created this video. The video includes a thorough explanation of the condition as well as survivability and life expectancy – two aspects of the widow maker not covered elsewhere in the article.
Click Here for the Widow Maker Part 2
At MyHeart.net, we’ve helped millions of people through our articles and answers. Now our authors are keeping readers up to date with essential information through twitter. Follow Dr Ahmed on Twitter @MustafaAhmedMD.
If you liked the information in this article make sure you read
‘Did That Stent Save My Life? and ‘Should I Take An Aspirin Every Day?’.
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This is the perfect website for anyone who wishes to find
out about this topic. You realize a whole lot its almost
tough to argue with you (not that I actually will need to…HaHa).
You definitely put a fresh spin on a topic which has been discussed
for many years. Excellent stuff, just excellent!
Spencer Belkofer says
Thanks Kevin. We really appreciate it. We’re trying to do this on several cardiology-related topics. Are there any specific topics you’d like to see us cover?
You can follow Dr Ahmed’s twitter at @MustafaAhmedMD
I truly appreciate this article. It explains it the most I’ve ever seen. We lost my dad actually 20 days before this article was written to a widow maker. He had weakness and flu like symptoms for 2 weeks leading up to his heart attack on January 1, 2015. He told my mom that evening that he had heart burn and 2 minutes later he coughed deep and dropped. They did CPR all the way to hospital as well as shocking him for 40 minutes straight. They did get a heart beat back and called us into the cath lab to show us video of his artery before and after the stent. His entire left side was blocked. They did hypothermic treatment to try to save his brain to no avail. He was brain dead and we turned his machines off on January 8, 2015. Worst thing I’ve ever been throw. Those that live through it are truly blessed. It’s called a widowmaker for a reason, it left my mom a widow at only 59
I am sorry about your dad. I just had a widow maker heart attack two weeks ago. No signs it was coming on. All testing and ekg’s and stress test said everything ok. Working in yard and suddenly felt bad. Sat in a chair and major chest pain, left arm went numb, then lips, then right arm and fingers. Knew I was in trouble. My son had been helping me and left to go get us some pizza for lunch. Got up and walked around the house and up my driveway to a covered swing in my front yard. I knew if I stayed in the back yard, no one would find me. My phone was also beside the swing. I had to struggle to get to the swing. Lost all feelings in my hands, could not move them. Could not dial. Breathing got really hard and I told God I was not going to make it. Outside temperature was near 100 and no breeze. God then gave me a breeze for the next 4-5 minutes and it felt like the temperature dropped 10 degrees and I got most of my breath back. About the time I was going to fall over in the swing, my son pulled up in front of the house. He ran in and got me a towel and ice and I said call 911. He was calm on the phone, I could hear him. At this time I had fallen out on the ground and was on my back and lifted my legs up on the swing to help the strain on my heart. I knew it was a heart attack, tried to throw up three times, sweating and could not lift my arms and my lower body was starting to have convulsions. I heard the siren coming and they were at my home in less than 5 minutes. Got into the back of the ambulance and the tech got me hooked up, and asked if I had ever had a heart attack. I said no, and he said ” well you are having one now. I told him if I died before getting to the hospital he had to tell my son he had done everything he could to help me. He said they were not going to let me die. 4 aspirin, 2 nitros later and about 8 minutes we were at the hospital They were terrific, in ER for heart attacks and strokes for another 5-10 minutes and then in cath lab and finished in less than a hour. IMMEDIATELY felt like a ton of bricks off my body. God allowed me to come out with no long term damage to heart, Up and back at my work within a week, ( architect) and feeling terrific. Back to my 2 week check up and then was informed it was a Widow Maker attack. I am blessed and I know God has something for me to do. You can survive even with 100 per cent blockage but everything had to go correctly and God has to step in.
That is so true!God is awesomeness!!!!
Herb Vergara says
Amen and thank you for sharing your experience. I just lost my father today to what they believe was a widowmaker. He went quickly, and I’m still in shock; however, I find comfort that he is with our Lord now.
This is soooooooooo true!!! It is all in God’s hands. My husband went in two weeks ago, and we just found out today from his Cardiologist that he had a widow maker heart attack, along with pulmonary embolism in both lungs. His Cardiologist had never seen in his entire career anyone present with both at the same time. Our Cardiologist and Pulmonologistare the best in this area, but it was in God’s hands, lots of prayer warriors! He survived both with little damage to his heart. Praise be to God!!!!
Ray, thanks for sharing your story. I had a widowmaker two and half years ago when I was 43. Your story brought back the experience of that terrible day. But I too felt the same way that God had more work for me too. I am so glad that you survived.
All the best.
I just lost my brother at the age of 43 on October 31, 2016. He was the definition of healthy. He was afire fighter and guardsman. Worked out ate right everything. He was on duty at fire station and thought he ate something that didn’t agree with him and sat down. He got real sweaty and the medics there began working on him. He then laid down and vomited. They worked on him and it took 3 minutes to hospital. They worked on him at hospital. He didn’t make it. There was an autopsy performed but we won’t know results for awhile. One minute he was fine the next he was gone. I think he had a widow maker. It makes no sense because he had no warning no symptoms of anything. I do believe God had a plan for him. We are all in shock and can’t believe this has happened. It’s hard to take and understand. He leaves behind a wife and young child.
Julie wRr says
I too had a massive heart attack in 2007. Although I wS left with damage, god saved my life. He gave me my wonderful doctor who I love with all my heart!!
I’m so very happy you’re ok. I too had a widow maker July 14, 2015. No symptoms other than feeling anxious and tired. I had just turned 50, ran ~20 kms/week; heathy lifestyle. I have no idea what made me go to the ER; just felt something was ‘wrong’. Took 4 hrs in hospital when finally it hit – 100% blockage at the top of my LAD. Was rushed to another hospital 30 mins away where they placed a stent. I’m back to running and feel 100%. I feel grateful to be alive for my teenage kids. I believe running and a higher power kept me from dying that night.
A Moderator needs to remove the post “Wendy says June 13, 2016 at 2:46 am
The word is stent, not stint-” and the subsequent replies. Stress kills.
Also – what are the recommendations for people who live where the nearest cardiology interventionalist MD is an hour or more away, other than not to hesitate to call 911 and not attempt to self-diagnose?
nina warren says
I had mine on December 13,2016 3days ago at 43. Had EKG stress test. Cartliatist. I listened to my body. But on the way died. Came back and was in er in mins. Took till the next day for the surgery. Main artery 100 percent blocked. Other 2 at 70 percent. Today still have some pain.
First let me say, that I send my deepest Sympthy to anyone that has lost a loved one to a heat attack. I had several widow maker’s, one right after the other, while on the Cath Table, during the placement of 1 planned stent to remove a 60% blockage in the LAD.
During the stent placement, things went terribly wrong, a spiral disection of the LAD started occuring, and a second stent was put in place butted right up against the first one, it didnt stop there, the artery continued to disect, and three more stents were put in place all butted up against each other. I could feel the stress my cardiologist was going through during each stent placment. After A much needed two week vacation, my Doctor told me he thinks that the only thing that stopped the disection from continuing was it ran out of artery ! He also told me,that several times during the whole ordeal, he thought he would never be talking to me again. That all happened in 2003,
And after reading the doctors report on what had happened, I Consider myself a very ,very, lucky person to still be here.
Jose Candelario says
i WENT TO A GYM TO LOOK FOR A TRAINER AND HAD A HEART ATTACK. 100% LAD BLOCKAGE. A FLOCK OF EMS ANGELS WAS THERE IN 6 MINUTES. RUSHED TO HOSPITAL, CATHETER, STENT. NEXT DAY I FELT BETTER. I AM NOW WAITING FOR AN ECHOCARDIOGRAM AND I’M HOPEFUL THERE’S MINIMAL DAMAGE TO MY HEART. i THANK GOD FOR THIS SECOND OPPORTUNITY AND AM READY TO SUBMIT TO GOD’S WILL, WHATEVER IT MAY BE.
Barbara Gates says
My husband had a major heart attack and had 2 stents put in his LAD. HIS HEART dr. Has him on all kinds of meds of course. He also has TYPE2 diabetes ” uncontrolled” he uses INSULIN. But I can’t get him to stop eating fatty foods, carbs, salt. In other words he HAS NOT changed any of his old habits. He is 340lbs.very little exercise. I think he has a DEATH WISH. That’s all it could possibly be. I have begged and cried but he says he’s gonna enjoy his life while he can. With these bad habits and all the other stuff what do U think his life expectancy would be? I’d just like to have an idea of how long I have left with him.
Dr. Mustafa Ahmed says
No one can predict that really, but what we do know is that there is a proven benefit from lifestyle interventions and a proven reduction from a bad lifestyle.
Jayne Fallik says
I really would love to know. What are the best tests to see if one has a blockage when they are feeling well. I wish there was more to do to see how someone is heart health wise before they have a heart attack.
Hi My husband had a heart attack in March this year He was super fit ex army trained every day and was a keen fell runner It was diagnosed as LAD
He was unable to have a stent fitted as the artery was far too small to fit a stint He is now on 5 different medication including a spray for under his tongue Sounds sill y I know but would it have been better if he could have had a stent fitted Is he likely to survive So worried
Megan Buchanan says
My husband had a heart attack on Saturday. Didn’t find out till today. All three arteries blocked. The LAD I think is what it’s called was 100% blocked and the other two are 90%and 70% to be fixed next week. Was this a widow maker? He is 41 I am 30 with 2 kids under 6. I also have pneumonia and can’t be with him as he is four hrs away.
I had a heart attack 3/5/16. I just found out yesterday it was a widow maker. I got up thursday and friday mornings getting ready for work and had chest pains and left arm pain. It lasted about 5-10 min. I sat on the side of the bed for a few min. It went away both mornings so I went ahead to work. Saturday morning it happened again. It woke me up about 5 am lasted about 15 min then stopped. I went back to sleep. I woke up about 9 am again it happened. I told my husband what was happening and went ahead and drove to the er. They took me back and put me in a room, told me to get a gown on and everyone left. I got a gown on and it happened again. I was just pacing and rubbing my left arm and chest. A Dr. came back in and asked if I was ok. I told her no that I was having another episode again. She told me to lay down, they hooked me up then proceeded to tell me “Now you are having a heart attack”. I asked if the episodes before on thursday and friday if those were ones. She said no. I had 100% blockage in the lad and immediately had a stint put in. Then on march 15 had a 2nd stint put in. I just found out this weekend that the lad is the widow maker. Thank goodness I was paying attention and went in. They took my blood pressure and I cant remember what the upper number was but I remember the lower number was 117. So I was really really lucky.
The word is stent, not stint-
Really you just had to correct her
This woman describes her heart attack and all you can do is correct her grammar!?! Really?
I think we all understood what she meant!!!! Damn!!!
You are a doll….oops dill. I think you know what I meant!
Not nice Wendy.
Jayne Fallik says
Calm down with the spelling
So no we have a spelling teacher with no life scanning for errors
Krystal B. says
I had a widowmaker heart attack also November 2015 and had to have emergency bypass surgery. This is a good information site. I just found out my heart attack was a widowmaker.
I too survived a widow maker. Had chest pain for 3 days but felt more like indigestion. by end of 3rd day, felt like I had pneumonia and couldn’t breath very well. Since it was midnight, my wife took me emergency, where they diagnosed a heart attack. Rushed into surgery, stent was installed, but I went into coma for nearly 2 weeks before coming back and going home. I am now “6 years old” (64 really, but plus 6 from the “episode”) 2 years later had to have a Cardio implant (CCD) to keep heart stable and from ultimately stopping. Whole bottom front quarter of heart is dead. Was able to make my Son’s graduation from college, and both Son and Daughter’s weddings. Feel lucky to still be here. My wife won’t eat at Claim Jumpers any more because one of their hamburgers is called “the widow maker”.
I’ve been dieting and lost 40 pounds 7 years ago and was at a good weight for body and age. I turned 60 in February. I thought it was okay to eat what ever I wanted in moderation as long as I kept the weight off. I exercised 2-3 times a week cardio and weights. A week before my heart attack I helped friends move heavy furniture up 3 flights of stairs.
I woke up one morning and felt just a little discomfort top left chest and under my armpit. NOTHING painful…just a slight discomfort. I came down the stairs and had cereal for breakfast. Walked back upstairs and was REALLY out of breath and the discomfort came back. I wondered if it could be a start of a heart attack. I did take an aspirin. then since I was out of town….looked on line to see what hospitals my insurance was good for… I still debated for another 3 hours and after I was winded again walking out of the post office I took myself to emergency room. EKG was abnormal and after blood test they did say I had a heart attack. Stayed overnight and had stent in my LAD the next day. 95% blocked. I was so weak the night before just walking across the hospital room. Was home the next day and went back 3 weeks later to do my right side with another stent. 70% blocked. My cardiologist told me I could resume my exercise as soon as I felt like it. I was put on effient , 81 aspirin, beta blocker…never really had high blood pressure….it was border line….also put me on stronger cholesterol meds. I guess my point was…. I have my DAD’s genetics so diet does MATTER. He had bypass surgery at age 52 in 1977. I have never smoked but grew up with 2nd hand smoke. I am doing better with my diet per the new guide lines given to me. Trying to eat more vegetables, fruits, fish…. I really thought I was doing fine with my diet. I WISH I KNEW how long it took to get blocked like it did. Can I cheat once a month and have a hamburger and fries? a steak now and then? I have cut out processed lunch meat… I do watch my sodium intake etc….and take my meds…..but just wonder how important diet really is now…..if I just keep all in moderation. I’ll be curious to see my cholesterol levels when I go back in a month. I was only about 200. The doctors here immediately put me on 40 mg a day of avorstatin. Was 20 mg with simvastatin…. It has only been 5 months and at times I feel a twinge or think I can feel alittle discomfort where my stent is at at the LAD. I remember that stent placement was very uncomfortable. I was NEVER put out…just in a little twilight.
Indeed, this site has the most accurate information, presented in the most accessible language, than I’ve come across yet. An invaluable resource, absolutely.
I never paid much attention to “healthy heart” cautions and advice . . . until I became an embalmer at the age of 36. After a few months of up-close, hands-on, and very intimate experience of folks’ arteries . . . well, let’s just say that my attitude has changed.
My only regret is that I can’t really enjoy fried chicken the way I used to 😉
Phyllis Whitmer says
my nephew just had a heart attack 100% Lad artery blocked, won’t know until tomorrow to see damage
This is a wonderful site. I experienced significant chest and left arm pain on three occasions over the last two weeks. My secretary convinced me to go to a local hospital known for it’s ability to handle emergencies related to the heart. I walked in, they performed some initial tests and one hour later I was in the cath lab. I was told my LAD was 95% blocked. They put the stent in, ordered several medications for me and they told me I would be fine if I exercised, took my medications and ate correctly. They told me I was very, very lucky. One doctor told me, “it was a good save, you hit the lotto.” They don’t have to tell me twice, I will follow their instructions to the letter. The moral of my story is if you experience chest pain, go to the hospital and always listen to your secretary!
In March 2014 I went out for a jog and collapsed on the living room floor. My wife performed CPR until the EMT’s arrived. I was defibrillated 3 times for cardiac arrest. They got me to the E.R. with a 95% blocked widow maker. They performed angioplasty and put in a stent and I have done well. Only symptoms were dizziness after jogging and collapse. One point I would like to make is that in the ER my cardiac enzymes did not elevate so they checked for other issues such as seizures and stroke. (This is called non-stemi).
My wife was persistent that she had performed CPR, and I was defibrillated for cardiac arrest. She had to continue to tell them that it was my heart. My point being that it is important to have an advocate who tells the story to the medical staff at the hospital in order to get the appropriate care as soon as possible. My advice is learn CPR.
Charlene Hale says
Thank you for good info. Look forward to your messages.
Russ Schultz says
I had this Widowmaker heart attack Saturday morning. Friday night I got home late from work. Our dear friends from out of townhad arrived for the weekend. We went and grabbed some dinner and dropped off a laptop at Micro Center before heading home. I mentioned briefly to my wife when we got home that my chest hurt. I honestly thought though that I had over done it by eating dessert since we had been on the Whole 30 program the past two months. We went to bed. I woke up at 2:30am feeling uncomfortable. I did not get up, and drifted back to sleep. At 3:30am I woke up again and got up. I took two baby aspirin and an antacid. I went to the bathroom. I felt really bad. My chest hurt as did both of my arms. My wife came into the bathroom and took my blood pressure. 157/106. She took it again and got the same reading. She said get your clothes on we’re going to the emergency room. I tried to talk her out of it but the discussion was short. In the time it took me to walk down the stairs to the driveway, I went from being very uncomfortable to being in desperate peril. She drove me through every red light and nearing 100 mph to the hospital. Every moment counted. it took 15 minutes. I arrived, had an immediate EKG, and the doctor told me I was having a heart attack and they had to get me into surgery immediately. A catheter was inserted in my right wrist and three stents were placed in my 100% blocked LDA. One stent was placed in my RCA. It is only today, Tuesday, that I am finding out just what kind of heart attack I had and how close I came to death. The long rehab begins soon. My EF right after my attack went to 25%. A day after, my echo cardiogram, indicated it had increased to 45%. Much work to be done.
Mark Shoemaker says
Russ, I had the widow-maker on July 19 2011, at the age of 43. My wife also brought me to the hospital with my two young kids in the back seat of the car.. Terrifying.. you will be fine.. I worked hard in Cardiac rehab, changed my diet and am doing great.. Going to mountain bike in Moab Utah for three days next week.. I actually did the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands (120 miles in 2 days) 6 months after i had it.. God Bless you will be fine.
Scott Webb says
Thanks Mark. I had the widow maker on December 13, 2015. I’m 56 years old. Just made it the hospital. Had four stents placed. I started cardiac rehab and lost 16 pounds in 3 weeks. Your experience has encouraged me. I’m still a bit freaked out by it. God bless.
Had widow maker ojjhhhhhjn nov 5 2014 had open heart surgery that night. They tried to open the blockage but during the process it actually caused the artery to start leaking. With all the blood thinners in my system the surgery was touch and go. Bleed thru 9 units of blood before it finally stopped 3 days later. Im a single dad raising 2 daughters. I will never forget waking up 4 days later and see them standing next to bed
Johnny Ryan says
I had the “Widowmaker” (95% blockage on the LAD) on March 11th, 2012 at the age of 48. 6’1″, 205 lb. Pack a day smoker, but still exercised. Cholesterol was 173. Ironically, that was the day we changed the clocks to spring forward. I later found there was a significant increase in MIs during clock changes.
Had two stents placed in a cardiac cath through the femoral artery. Passed out during the event and did not awaken until 4 days later. I later spoke to the ambulance crew who told me my heart stopped and they aspirated me for nearly 15 minutes and shocked my chest about 15 times. ( I awoke to find burns and rashes on my chest.)
Needless to say, it was a traumatic event.
I did so many stupid things before and after my MI. Only now have come to realize, by the grace of God that I am still here.
I feel good now after dealing with PTSD and GAD. I am learning my limits. I want to help anyone I can that is going through this because the most important thing I learned is that you cannot fix all the associated problems with this type of event by yourself.
Just a note: Don’t try to drive yourself to the ER, or have your wife drive you, call 911. The advantages of an ambulance trip to the ER are that they will know by EKG and blood tests, on the way, what is wrong with you before you get there, and they will call the ER to prepare for your arrival, and have a whole team there ready to help.
Good advice bob, I was thinking the exact same thing. Just call the ambulance.
Your wife is a brave woman…I told my wife NEVER try to drive me to the ER…call 911 and have an ambulance take me…your brave and loving wife could have caused more harm to you and herself and others by driving so fast…my hats off to her BUT she did no one any favor by driving you to the ER. Best wishes to you.
Great post. Thank you. Wish you well!
I’m so glad you made it, you have a very smart wife. She saved your life. Hope you have a great recovery.
hELL I HAD THE mAKER ON A SUNDAY BEACH TRIP AND MY WIFE IS A NURSE!!! DIDNT GO TO THE DOC TIL TUES,. SHE DROVE ME CRAZY BUT NOT TOT THE DOC….THENARGUED AS TO WHY I WAS THERE!!!!!! IN THE er!!!!!!!
WOW. So scary you guys. What are you guys doing for diets now to hopefully prevent it in the future? My mom had a bypass and I’m always worried, I try and get her to eat less meat and animal products because in all of my research those who eat less have longer, healthier lives. I’m trying with my husband, too, to get him to lose weight, exercise and eat better. We’re in our mid 30’s but I want many years – I keep seeing people in their 40’s and 50’s and I think that’s just too young!
I am 39 years old, an avid runner and wieght lifter. I also had the widowmaker. Do to my excessive cardio fitness my heart had minimal damage. My coworkers think i am nuts because i came back to work 3 days after my heart attack and stent was placed. This happened april 4 2016,i had no clue thought it was indegestion. Wont take that for granite ever again.
Jack Hewko says
Was cutting up an evergreen tree Thursday afternoon and got a burning pain in my chest and felt an invisible hand squeezing my throat and breathing felt like my lungs were filled with cotton. My wife called the clinic and they said to get to an ER stat. Was given a nuclear stress test and on the treadmill I got my heart rate up to 140 and the cardiologist noted an abnormal EKG pattern. I was experiencing the same sensations only worse.The cardiologist and surgeon were waiting in my room before transport had gotten me back to my room. I was in the OR in no time. LAD blockage and had a stent put in. I praise and thank God for living in a time of modern medicine and the gifted medical staff at Providence Hospital in Everett, WA. – Jack
In June of 2006, at the age of 37, I experienced a heart attack due to a blockage in the LAD artery in my heart. I went from feeling well to feeling excruciating squeezing chest pain that became progressively worse while I was driving on a busy highway. I took the first exit I saw, exited my car, entered a nail salon and collapsed on the floor. By the time EMT’s arrived, I was alert and my vital signs were normal. I was transported to the nearest hospital where my symptoms started, again. I was held overnight for observation and was given a nuclear stress test the next morning which I failed miserably. After being transported to another hospital that was better equipped to treat me, two stents were placed in my heart and nine years later, I’m doing very well.
Widowmaker Surviver says
Hi doc…thanks for the article. I actually have a question for others – who like me – have recently suffered a widow maker heart attack.
I had my heart attack a few weeks ago and to be honest…I just feel down – like I’m depressed or something. It’s weird, because I’m not sure whether it’s physical, emotional, or something else. Am I the only one experiencing this after a major heart attack? Is it normal? How long will this last? Is there anything I can do to feel better sooner? Etc?
Any advice from other widowmaker survivors would be highly appreciated!
Dear Friend….no worries….you have EVERY right to feel “down” ! In a nano second your view on life and living change. As someone told me, you have 2 lungs but only 1 heart…make the best of it. If you are on Plavix, hang in there. That stuff is nasty but worth it. If your hospital has group cardio counseling, go…demented humor…misery loves company! Email the AMerican Heart Association – they will provide great feedback. One foot after the other – you can do it!
sarah jones says
had a widow maker in Jan 2015 eye am 66 years old this was my second stent.and yes eye went through some depression
Problem is support groups are very limited in my area. Nobody to compare notes and action plans with. I had my WMHA in Jan ’13. Met others out walking daily as part of rehab, similarly afflicted. Seems like most of us older folks take our exercise seriously after an event like this. Walk 15+ miles over 5 days per week without fail. Remember diet is paramount too. I eat more fiber now than most rabbits. Eliminating red meat and most dairy products along with a bump from Lipitor has helped keep my cholesterol below 120. Read those nutrition labels. I learned the hard way….you are what you eat!
Good luck to all
I know it’s been over a year, but I just wanted to say that I hope you’re feeling better physically and emotionally. I had my widow maker 9 days after you. Normally I’m a tough cookie but I was a scaredy cat for a whole year after. I asked to be placed on Zoloft and that, along with getting back to running and meditating, has helped a lot. I wish you a long, happy life 🙂
It was a traumatic experience I really cry off and on for no reason at all. I HAD THE DADDY OF ALL WIDOWMAKERS triple blockage vein in left leg removed 80% blockage in all three 12 weeks in hospital all started due to bladder infection. I just felt mild indigestion passed out twice in 2 days rushed me to erase what a mess.but Thanks to God I made it I am 61 year old female.Joyce
patty soti says
My husband had this widow maker and felt anxious and worried after even though he did not remembered a thing. I suggest to buy a blood pressure machine to have peace of mind and check with your dc if you can do cardio rehab excercicig with monitoring
My wife died suddenly and the autopsy said that the LAD displayed 75% stenosis with superimposed thrombosis. The right main coronary artery showed 50-60% stenosis. Is any blockage of the LAD considered a Widow Maker?
julie ames says
Rich I was told that a blockage in the LAD is called a widowmaker. I heard this through a nurse when I was just in the hospital a few days ago getting stents put in the LAD. I dont know how true it is but that is what I was told. I wanted to tell you how sorry I am to hear of your wifes passing. Im sorry that you are hurting.
I had a Widow Maker on Jan 23, 2015. I was in recovery room from having my left shoulder replaced. I was very lucky, we had the stent in place under 1 hour. I am 30 years old.
Jim, that is SO scary. I keep reading here about it happening to those in their 30’s and 40′. As a mom with three young kids and a husband coming up on 40 it is a huge concern. I am glad to see you were so lucky, god bless.
Im 36 yrs old. In feb. I had terrible pain in my chest and arms. It wouldnt go away so i drove to the er. Within five minutes of getting there i had died. They revived me and i had two stents put in. My lad was 100 percent blocked and one in the back of my heart was 80 blocked. I only have 35 percent of heart strenth left. I experienced the depression too but it has gotten better. Im still scared that i may not be so lucky next time. Its hard to except at such a young age.
I had mine at 30, 100% blockage in my LAD, as well. I never experienced the depression, but more questioning why I lived when so many others die. I have no career, no family that depends on me, nothing. Why am I still here? I still ask myself that 10x a day. Just doesn’t make sense.
God has you a plan for you. There’s a good reason why you are still here. 🙂
You are young yet you were saved for a reason.Enjoy the life you have left I am 61 and I find a reason every day to enjoy my life.
I had mine 24 Dec 15, and the pain experienced will never be forgotten. Afterwards I felt depressed and hopeless, but it soon left knowing cardiac rehab was there to put me back into shape. I believe heavy work stress did lead to the heart attack LAD with three out of possible stents inserted. Now I’m just scared to eat anything. I’m 6ft and 190lbs, not overweight, nor did I eat poorly, just don’t get why this happened.
My husband too had a heart attack and double bipass at your age. The depression and anxiety is real but you can get thru it all. He will be 60 in July and while life has been challenging, your life and your experience counts. Help others to get thru this. Too many rehab places of old folks and no one to help the young. Be that person and make a difference. God bless
I had the LAD by-passed last Monday. They did it by Robot assisted off pump surgery.
I was done on Monday and home on Thursday. Funny thing is that aside from feeling tired a lot I had no other pain in the chest before the operation. They found it during a Cardiac cath and it was to big for a stent. I am still amazed at what they did and how little it hurt afterward. Wish you all the best.
You, my friend, were very, very lucky. Off pump surgery is much easier on the body than On pump surgery. I have 35 stents, and 2 failed CABG grafts. Good luck to you, hope it continues!
Linda Knutsson says
My husband, at age 68, had a heart attack in February 2011 (fell unconscious on kitchen floor). Involved LAD. 100% blockage & also other areas of the heart that revealed two 40% blockages – even 10% & 20 blockages. He was put in a coma (to make it easier on his heart) and was eventually ambulanced to a bigger hospital for testing. He survived but he could not get the required surgery because of his other health issues. And later he, couldn’t get the needed knee replacements because of his heart condition. He is managed on a lot of prescription meds including the water pill (furosemide). He passes urine every 1/2 hour— 24/7! This is true & what you can be in for when you don’t get the surgery. He’s been in a wheelchair for two years (because of the arthritis) & I have given him good care at home all these years. He has accepted all what has happened, rarely complains. It would be just too difficult for him to go on a holiday. A plane—never. He’s on tramadol painkillers for his arthritis. What a life! Yes, he was a heavy smoker for years & the last time he smoked was the day he had his heart attack at home. His doctor really didn’t discuss this frequency of urination. No wonder he keeps falling asleep in his front-room chair during the day.
julie ames says
Im sorry to hear about your husband. With all that is wrong you failed to mention a bright spot in his life….you. I have many health probs very similar to your husbands. I have even been told by a dentist that he cant repair my teeth due to my heart and also diabetes! Nothing like a toothache most days. One thing I cant live without is my husband. He copes when I cant. You are all he needs.
Sal LaBarbera says
Drove myself to the hospital on 8/6 from chest pain and shortness of breath. Had a stent put into my Widow Maker on 8/8…I still feel discomfort in my chest and breathing is not back to normal. Does anyone know if this is normal?
Cyndi Sullivan says
What are your thoughts on the cardiac calcium scan (or mammogram of the heart), which detects lesions and previously undetected heart disease noninvasively? I am doing research for an article on the subject and would like to be able to quote you.
Thanks in advance for your help.
My husband just had the calcium score done. He had 84% blockage in his LAD. We assumed surgery but because his nuclear stress test showed good flow, his doctor put him on cholesterol meds. No surgery. His cholesterol is under 200. The doctor is a top cardiac surgeon in or area so at have to trust his decision but area a bit confused. We discuss this with him but he felt like it was the best course of action.
Open heart surgery is not for sissys, neither is it a cure for heart disease. 84% is significant, but I am sure your dr. is watching your ekgs, and has told you what to look for. I was told for years that I couldn’t have CABG because my arteries were to small and weak… then came the day they had no choice.. the bypass was done. It took 6 months for all the grafts to fail, and they had to go back to the native arteries. The surgery itself almost took me out. I have 35 stents, and 2 failed CABG grafts. Go slow into the surgery thing if at all possible.
scott durbin says
I had widow maker didn’t know it I drove home 600 miles having it my left arm hurting bad but i have arthritis so I ignored it got home went to bed got up next morning pain was up my neck into my jaw my wife called ambulance got me to hospital and straight to catch lab I flat lined on cath table they kept me knocked out for two weeks didn’t want me moving that was in 2011 I’m on blood pressure pills I’m doing very well so far
Brian Thompson says
I am glad you are okay and doing well. Are you sure it was the Widow Maker though? Having the Main Artery to the heart blocked, isn’t good. Most people die within an hour. 600 Miles would take about 10 hours. Not all Heart Attacks are the WindowMaker. I am just curious, how much of your LAD was blocked?
JAMAL K R says
Great work and nice and clear and easy to understand explanation by DR Mustafa, I am 55 yrs old and only 3 days ago i placed three stent in my coronary arteries at NYU langone the procedure was done by DR Coppola a great DR and a pioneer in treating cardiovascular disease and who happened to treat my father some 40 years at saint Vincent hospital ,when the procedure was done i was told by Dr Coppola assistance DR ferrass that the culprit was thee widow maker and i had no clue what that mean but it did picture my wife of 32yrs wearing black,anyway it is like day and night for me i could run my 4 mills easily as appose to the 500 yard 4 days ago,thank god for those doctors and thank god for science
Dr. Murtaza Ahmed says
Thank you for your comments and we are glad you are ok and caught the dreaded widowmaker in time.
“God” had nothing to do with you living. You should say “thank Science for the Doctors”.
Science & Doctors kept you alive.
Good you’re doing well.
You obviously don’t believe in God and his plan for all of us. I am a nurse and have seen the miracles of science but in the end, it is God’s plan. I just lost my 45 year old brother two months ago who was the picture of health. He had blockages in all of his cardiac arteries but 75% in his left main (LAD). His was at the gym at the time working out with his daughter. His funeral service had the largest amount of people pay their respects that the funeral home had ever seen. He was a coach, a mentor, a great father, and had touched many lives in his 45 years on this earth. God puts us on this earth for a purpose and when that purpose has been fulfilled in His eyes, he may take us regardless of how incredible science is with regards to the Docs. My brother’s motto was, “It’s about the impact you make along the way”. His job was done here on earth so God created another angel.
Your story sounds just like what happened to my brother. He died October 31 at at age of 43. Pretty sure was widow maker. He was fire fighter and picture of health. No warning or symptoms of any kind. The funeral home was packed as he has
many brothers in the fire dept and the guard. It’s hard to fathom as we are all in shock. But God wanted him for some reason. I too am a nurse and have seen a lot. He was fine one minute and not the next. He got sick at fire station so he had everything available to him to help save him but it didn’t work. Got him to hospital in 3 minutes. He was gone. My brother touched so many lives. We don’t have results back from autopsy but I believe it was the widow maker.
perry mason says
So if you live, God has a plan for you and if you die he didn’t? My mother died at 42. I guess his plan was for her to die at 42?
Janet Cooper-Tanner says
I am a 65 year old female and had a heart attack this past Saturday morning about 1:30 AM involving the LAD artery. Please don’t ever ignore the signs that are there! I was having discomfort off an on for a good while – shortness of breath, chest discomfort, arm pain, neck and shoulder pain and middle of the back pain. (not all of these at the same time, though). I also have a hernia that I was told would cause the same symptoms, so I attributed a lot of it to this. And I have 3 herniated discs in my neck and one in my back, so I thought my pain was also coming from them. Prior to my “big one” I was experiencing more frequent chest pain. My husband and I were out of town with a group of friends. While at a banquet, I attempted to dance and within 30 seconds, my chest started hurting, so I sat down until it passed and did nothing the rest of the evening. We went to bed around 12:00 and my husband dozed off. I could not get comfortable and still had mild pain, so could not sleep. I lay there until the “big one” hit me about 1:30 AM. At that time, the chest pressure was intense with sweating & nausea. My husband jumped up, called the front desk of the Hyatt and they called 911. Emergency personal were there within 6 minutes and it was a 15 minute ride to the hospital, but I was in good hands! My EKG’s never showed a problem! They performed a nuclear stress test that is done in 2 parts. They injected the contrast meds and took about 35 pictures. Then they injected the medicine to “stress” the heart and it immediately caused the pain and vomiting. After about 15 minutes, they completed the test. When I got back to my room, they did an ultrasound and it showed the blockage, which still had a trickle of blood flowing. I had surgery to place a stent early the next morning. I should have known better because of family history. My dad passed away at the age of 63 with a heart attack in 1980. Back then, there wasn’t much you could do like today, otherwise he would probably have lived much longer as his first heart attack was at the age of 48. Then 4 years ago, one of my brothers had a heart attack at the age of 58 and he has had numerous problems since then, but is still alive. His prognosis is not good. Then in August, 2014, my baby brother who was 49 at the time, had a heart attack with the same LAD artery, and they had to bring him back twice in the emergency room. He was blessed as he was only 5 minutes from the hospital and taken there by a friend. If he had been one or two minutes later, they couldn’t have saved him. As a result of his, he has heart damage and an enlarged heart, but is doing well. I am doing wonderful, but the moral of my story is to please don’t wait when you have symptoms – especially with the family history!!
Dr. Murtaza Ahmed says
Thank you for sharing your story. It is only too common for people to ignore the early signs of a heart attack or mistake them for something else like gastric reflux or other conditions. Family history is one of the biggest predictors of Coronary Artery Disease and it should alert people to the possibility that they could be having a heart attack.
One should never ignore the symptoms and if you are at all unsure then seek medical attention and let the experts decide. I am glad things worked out well for you and you are ok.
julie ames says
Hello Dr. Ahmed. I just had 2 stents placed in the LAD a few days ago. I didnt have a heart attack but many symptoms of one. An abnormal stress test came to be and thats when combined with being symtomatic a radial cath was done. I still have 2 blockages that are 60 and less in there. Since having the procedure I still have some chest pain. Not as much as before and I still get winded with exercise. Is this a normal part of recovery?
Dr. Mustafa Ahmed says
No, did you feel any better at all after the stents. Was any form of testing performed on the 60% lesions to determine their significance?
I had chest pains early August 2015 while shopping. This wasn’t ordinary chest pains. Didn’t have a heart attack but ended up having EKG, treadmill. Had cardiac cath in hospital and doctor found some blockage in the LAD (not a lot of build up; didn’t need a stent or anything). This has been a wakeup call for me. Of course I have been reading a lot about the heart, LAD, and healthy eating habits. Talked with my doctor. I have been on meds for pre-diabetes, hypertension, and high blood pressure for some years, gave up smoking 30 years ago, and have been relatively active when it comes to exercise. Well, now I’m getting ready to change my eating habits. Don’t like salt so that’s not a problem. Heading to the grocery store tomorrow. Gotta do something because I would like to live a lot longer. I’m not even 60 yet. I won’t be missing any of my follow-up doctor appointments.
Ed Rodriguez says
I am curious. Do you have past family history in CAD? It seems that your risk factors were controlled? Unless your diet was that bad? What did it consist of?
Mike T says
I’m 47 and had a heart attack almost a year ago, but I was “lucky” to only have a 100% occlusion of the RCA. My best friend is a cardiologist (non-interventionist) and he is the first one to tell me about the “Widowmaker.” He also pointed out that if I absolutely had to have a heart attack the location of my occlusion which caused my MI was a best case scenario (I still suffered some cardiac damage). Anyway, I stumbled upon this site and in reading all of the survival experiences of LCA occlusions I really understand how how fortunate I am. I had a nuclear stress test this morning so I’m a little on edge and hope they don’t find any more issues and that my drug eluding stent is holding up well. I wish long lives to all the fellow members of a club that no one wants to be a part of (albeit I’m only a jr. member) and thanks to Dr. Ahmed for an informative site.
Dr. Mustafa Ahmed says
Thanks for your comment, hope you continue to do well.
I had open heart surgery 2 years ago,buy the have stopped up.the dr said they are 100%blocked is ther see anything that can be done.I have chest pain all the time please h3lp.
My health conscious active 62 to uncle was just weaned from the vent and had the aortic balloon removed today. Stent worked very well. Thank God for 911 helping people performing CPR. I think there is a lot to be said about vascular calcification and deposits…. I am a renal dietitian. The chemical, including monocalcium phosphates and many others are concerning. My athletic Uncle has a normal cholesterol.
This has been very helpful for me. My husband, who is 44, just survived the “widow maker” massive heart attack on 9/11/15. He coded 4 times during 2 surgeries (2 stents), spent 4 days in ICU & had a 3rd surgery (another surgery) on day 5. They say he has no right artery. Due to the scar tissue, he must have had a heart attack a couple years ago & not known.
Our world is still spinning & trying to adjust to do many things. We never thought this would happen. I’m so thankful for this article to help me understand this more.
Dr. Mustafa Ahmed says
Appreciate your comment. Glad you found it informative.
Dave P says
Thanks to you Dr. for great info and the section for comments. Reading other similar stories makes me feel less fearful and more hopeful.
Aug 3rd I passed out while driving, hit a utility pole. The airbag revived me. I got out of the vehicle and ems arrived within minutes . I was revived at roadside and taken 15 minutes drive to hospital.
100% blockage in LAD. Cath lab placed 4 stents in @ 30 minute procedure.
I’m so very blessed to have had the medical professionals there at that moment. 1 degree either way and I would not have lived to tell my story.
Why was I spared? I’ve still to figure that out. But the fact that I have been spared means I need to focus on recovery first, then making sure I am worthy of this chance every single day. THAT is what I will use as a goal to get me through rehab, recovery, the hard times mentally, and the times my meds make me feel terrible… Please keep striving if you are dealing with this disease, you can live well again. And for those doctors and nurses treating patients with this illness, please understand their fears at this
most difficult time in their and thier families’ lives.
At age 62 I suffered from the “Widow Maker”. My LAD was blocked. It was so narrow it looked like the thickness of a single hair. I remember that is was a Thursday night because I had an important business meeting scheduled for Friday. Shortly before bedtime I experienced mild discomfort in my chest, nothing else. I drank an Alka Seltzer to relieve the discomfort. I still didn’t feel right and since I had that important business meeting the following day I decided to visit the local ER. I actually felt pretty good enroute, never experiencing anything other than the memory of the earlier brief discomfort. None of the typical warning signs. Anyway, as I arrived at the ER I suffered a major heart in front of the reception desk. It was the LAD. I was treated so promptly that I didn’t suffer any damage to my heart. The doctors told me that had I remained at home I wouldn’t have survived. I had a stent implanted and was prescribed Warfarin. After a few days returned home and felt pretty good. Two days later I began suffering major intestinal pain and returned to the ER. I was determined that I had perforated my colon. So although I was on blood thinner I was operated on and had a large length of my colon removed. I was contacted with a colposcopy bag which I wore for 6 months until it was reversed. It was a total nightmare…..but today I feel terrific. Never give up hope!
I am so have to be alive in sharing this wonderful testimony to the world.
Rod Fletcher says
DJ FRENCH says
Greetings LAD survivors. I had my heart attack three weeks ago today, blockage of the LAD. My tennis buddies gave me CPR, saving my life, the EMTs used the paddles and inserted a breathing device, and a stent was placed in my LAD the same night. I am feeling better each day after no headaches the past two days, my BP meds having been adjusted downward, and I am thankful and hopeful to add many years to my current 67. We are all so lucky my friends. Let’s make ours lives worth saving. Cheers.
I just dodged a bullet. I have always been a swimmer, But I recently lost 60 lbs, went from being pre-diabetic to perfect blood sugar levels. I also stopped my blood pressure meds because if I had taken it I would have had too low a blood pressure. So for about 6 months I had no sign of any trouble – good cholesterol and blood sugar. but last month, My blood pressure went from normal to borderline high. I hadn’t gained weight or changed my dietary habits at all. I have been swimming about a mile a day for years, but I noticed one night that after a short warmup, I felt like I had a weight on my chest. It was not painful, but definitely not normal. I backed off and swam lightly for a few minutes, and the weight went away and I finished my workout. After this happened three nights in a row, I went to my doctor and told him about my sudden increase in blood pressure and mentioned the “weight” feeling on my chest when working out. He recommended me to a Cardiologist. I told him the event wasnt painful, just irritating, but he insisted. So I went to the Cardiologist and told him the same thing. No, I dont have diabetes, but I did just recently lose 60 lbs. I had been showing stellar stats for several months.
I thought that going to a cardiologist was complete overkill, since I had lost weight and had good stats, but I went along with them.
Once I told the Cardiologist the story, he got serious and said – “I’m not going to give you a stress test because that wont tell me anything more than what you have already told me.” He said he wanted to look inside my ateries and see what was up with my heart. I was really surprised, but he was quite adamant. So We scheduled for the next day, and even though it cost me over $5,000 -I came so close to cancelling, just because of the cost – Or at least putting it off til next year when I could use my “medical credit card” to offset some of the cost. But fortunately because of my wife, and the Cardiologist. I reluctantly went along with it. I thought the momentary tightness in my chest was such a little thing and all this was overkill. I even resented having to come to the hospital fastng… I like my breakfasts.
Bottom line was: I had 95 percent blocking in my left anterior descending artery. I almost became a certain victim of “the Widowmaker”
I’m 55 and after losing my excess weight, many people would look at me and think I’m an athlete of some kind.
During the examination, They put in a stint, and now are telling me how lucky I am.
In retrospect, I am the luckiest guy on earth. I had a doctor who took something I reported in almost an offhand way, and got me to that cardiologist, who though looking at a strong athletic looking guy, and despite not having the typical symptoms (diabetes etc..) decided to forgo the stress test, and just “look”
Fact is, I was a walking dead man, and didn’t know it. I didnt have a heart attack, I didnt even feel sick or anything, Just a minor complaint about a brief tightness in my chest, and those two attentive Doctors almost certainly saved my life. I cannot stress to you just how close I came to ignoring their counsel and just chalking it up to “being a little out of shape” or stress from my work… and just going on my merry way -which almost certainly would have killed me in just a few weeks.
By the way, my biggest concern in all of this was what it was going to cost me. and my insurance company fought both of these doctors tooth and nail to first against the recommendation to go to the Cardiologist, and the second to have the angiogram instead of just a stress test on a treadmill. The cardiologist was quite adamant about looking instead of just putting me on a treadmill. In fact he actually had to “fudge” a little on the report to make me look worse than I actually was. But he was certain something in there was wrong. He was absolutely right.
Now I’m sitting here wondering how many people have to actually have the heart attack before anyone believes them, or who are ignoring the slight discomfort in their chest – workouts are supposed to be strenuous!
when I went to the doctor I was kind of playing the symptoms down. I could not lie that I felt a weird tightness in my chest, but I never dreamed that mentioning just a little thing could lead to them saving my life.
Thanks to both of my Doctors, without whom I would almost certainly be dead – at least within the next few weeks.
The Widowmaker lost another one.
Dr. Jason L. Guichard, MD, PhD says
Thank you very much for sharing your story. You obviously had some good doctors taking care of you and a good wife watching out for you! We hope you found the information on The Widowmaker helpful and check back on a regular basis for more helpful information.
Thomas Meinert says
On October 25, 2015, I was home alone and getting ready to do yard work. I felt a pain in my upper chest to the left. I was becoming anxious and called 911. The ambulance arrived. The Paramedics advised me that they lost me 7 times in the ambulance, and 3 times in the ER upon arriving at the hospital. The paramedics told me that I kept responding to them when they yelled at me, and could feel the chest compressions. They also used the AED. It was my LAD which was 99% blocked as I was told by the great cardiologist who saved my life that day along with 2 paramedics that I will refer to as My Two Angels. I am doing well, at home, and awaiting Cardiac Rehab to begin. Please Call 911 even if in ANY doubt. They said if I’d waited another 10-15 minutes, I would be here. God Bless You All…
Denise N says
I was reading these as I sit in the cardiac lab waiting for my husband to recover. He’s 57, and has bad reflux. He had a couple bouts while working on the farm, complained that the reflux was starting to make his throat tight. During the summer, he sat down a couple times looking pale and attributed it to louisiana heat. I had him get an HBA1C do to family history. Sugar and cholesterol were run and ok. He mentioned it bothering him again the next week or so later. We decided to rule out cardio, again due to family history. LAD 100% blocked and a stint was placed after the treadmill stress test indicated a little elevation in BP and a Twave abnormality. This man works everyday and these vague symptoms and family history and taking a nap every day were literally the only warning.
My story is on Sept 30 2015 I was walking from a grocery store to a bus stop with about 20 to 25 lbs of groceries. A walk I have made many times. It was about 1/2 mile. I was close enough to see the bench at the stop when I became short of breath and had to sit down on a cement car stop. After about 10 minutes I was able to make it to the bench at the bus stop. I rode the bus home and had to stop half way on the way to my home and rest–never before has this happened. I went to bed later that night and severe pain in my chest–arms shoulders-neck and my ears! I couldn’t breath except for tiny gulps of air. This went on all night and into the next day–I thought I was going to die! For 5 1/2 days I didn’t consume anything but ice water. Breathing was still painful but I was reluctant to go to the hospital. Breathing problems continued on and off–I went to the hospital on November 12, 2015 ( I walked in ) with another bout of short breath. I was rushed to the surgery room within 1/2 hour of entering the hospital–all my readings were crazy. I am told my Widow maker was 100 % blocked Had a stint put in and I am recovering. This is a story of what not to do!! I am 65 years old.
I walked more than 1/2 mile yesterday, Dec 3rd–then walked to the store and spent a few hours chopping up my Olive tree branches that were snapped in a storm, bagged them and put them in the garbage–and felt good afterwards…more than I have done in any 1 day for months!
December 20th 2015–I worked on my neighbors 64 Chevy PU ( clutch replacement ) for 7 hours last Saturday and even though I was sore and tired afterwards I had no other problems.
Even though I was told by the doctors that I only had 25 to 30 % of the left side of my heart that wasn’t damaged by the blockage I feel fine and am back to being normal.
I am now 66 yrs old–When I read the comments on this page I am amazed I survived and the stint made it possible.
It is now April 4th 2016–last month I took a 2 1/2 mile walk with a neighbor who does this a few times a week–he kept giving me a chance to turn around and go back before the 1/2 way point.
If seemed he needed short breaks on the walk more than I did.
He timed our walk and we beat his best time. We did it in 56 minutes.
This is a update on life so far after the insertion of a stint in my LAD that was 100% blocked on November 12, 2015.
I must add it is survivable.
Awesome Dennis! keep striving brother!
So Thankful says
On Sep.18, 2015, my dad had a heart attack. The night before, his entire body had broken into a sweat. He figured that the home’s heat probably felt high. He woke up that Friday morning with a pain and numbness in the entire right side of his upper body. His numbness was primarily in his shoulder and chest. He figured that he probably just slept on it wrong. He took a shower, ate breakfast, and left for work. Again, around 10:00 AM at work, his entire body sweated and he felt the numbness. He told his manager that he wasn’t feeling well, so he’ll go home and rest. After his manager asked him more detail, he insisted to my dad that he should go to Urgent Care. My dad was skeptical and still felt that nothing was wrong with him. However, my dad listened to his manager. Sure enough, they took an ECG, found high BP, high cholesterol, and high triponin levels. After the Urgent Care’s insistence, my dad then went to the hospital, where they found 100% blockage in his right artery and 40% blockage in his LAD. The doctors performed the cath, placed a stent in his right artery, and did the balloon angioplasty on his LAD. He has now started living a heart-healthy lifestyle. Thank you to the Manager and Doctors for saving my 54-yr old dad’s life. <3 I am so grateful. It feels strange how sudden and close such a life-threatening issue grazed us by.
Donald Taylor says
I am a 59 year old male and had heart attack symptoms starting jan. of last year. In April I was in the hospital for a respiratory infection. I told my doctor of my attacks and they did an induced stress test which came back negative. He x-rayed my neck and said I had a compressed vertebrae pinching a nerve. It got worse and in Sept. I went to my doctor and this time he sent me for a dye test. I had 98% blockage of my widowmaker. I was lucky it did no heart damage. I was taking BC Powders up to 8 times per day. This is the only thing that helped and I feel it saved my life!
Thank you for explaining this is such simple terms that the lay person can understand. I am an RN & so many times find Doctors talking way over the patient, & their families heads. This is great!
A widow maker is when your husband dies before he hits the floor. You don’t survive a widow maker. He has the death rattle, and foam. He’s a code red in the ambulance. You are all lucky to survive the heart attack, he did 4 years earlier.
Today, after 4 months, I learned the cause of my husband’s death, after having his autopsy report explained to me by our family doctor. My son, who is a nurse, said later when we were in the car, “we call that the widow maker in the ER”. He sent me your website to try and help me to understand what occurred with my husband. Your article and video really helped me to understand what had happened. I had been feeling very guilty about the circumstances behind his death, as it happened in our bedroom, and I questioned my many actions when all of sudden my husband was having trouble breathing. I kept thinking what more could I have done to save him. Perhaps had I called 911 sooner, or maybe I didn’t do CPR correctly, but now I know that with this type of heart attack, there wasn’t much I could have done. Thank you for explaining this so clearly. I only wish that he would have survived it, but now at least I know how serious this type of heart attack is and his one that took him suddenly.
People keep asking about the ‘widow maker’ because they probably saw it on Dr. Oz as I did. He said its very dangerous too.
I just got out of the hospital yesterday from my 3rd heart attack. I’m having a really hard time with this, but I just keep thinking, My God is in control. I had my first heart attack 11/31/13 which was my PLAD ( widowmaker ) that was 100% clogged up. I have an amazing doctor that took care of me and saved my life. My second heart attack was 6/2/15 which was my right coronary artery, that was only 35% clogged up. Now 12/26/15 I had my 3rd heart attack. My doctor said is hereditary and I need to Stay on my cholesterol medications so it won’t keep happening. I’m very stubborn and been having problem taking my medicine, so I hope this will wake me up. Thank you for your video, it helped me understand more and I hope that My heart is able to stay strong. I’m 41 Years old.
Brian Thompson says
I had the “Window Maker” heart attack on 12/2/14. I was 49 years old. I had a 100% blockage of the LAD and went into Sudden Cardiac Arrest. My wife was there to give me CPR until medics got there. I am pretty sure that saved my life as my brother dies 4 years prios. He was brain dead before paramedics got there 10 minutes later.
I had no warnings. I am in great physical shape and eat well. I didn’t have any chest pains prior. I don’t remember a thing. I was in a coma for 4 days afterwards as they cooled my body. I am 100% recovered and back to working out, snowboarding and Scuba Diving.
I had left jaw pain on Christmas night 2015. Tried calling dr office since they normally have 1/2 day hrs on Saturday, but not Christmas week. Other than jaw pain, felt okay. Sunday night into Monday morning, woke up with nausea, took tums, vomited a little, could not get comfortable. Monday am stopped by family practice office, no apt available until next day. The receptionist told me to go to ER if it got any worse. The dr called around 3 pm and said get to ER. My husband was not home so I called a friend who took me to ER. I was not in acute distress, no high bp, no issue with cholesterol, but I did have brother who passed away at 53 suddenly and another brother, age 44, had 100 percent blockage in the LAD. Dr did a CAT scan and found 70 percentage and 40 percentage in the LAD. They put in a stent. I will fu with dr next week. Family history was the key.
don Cronk says
On the morning of 12/18/15 I was headed to my spot on the couch waiting for my coffee to finish brewing. I didn’t make it. I got dizzy and fell to the floor but did not have pain or pass out. I tried to get up only to fall down again. My wife in a panic wanted to call for an ambulance but I said to just let me rest. I did, got up, had two cups of coffee, went to the emergency room, and was admitted. After every test known to find the issue, the cardiologist finally found the blockage in my LAD. He was able to place a stent the next day but was dumbfounded how I was alive since the LAD was 99% occluded. My heart is fine and I didn’t suffer an attack or stroke. He said I was very, very fortunate to be alive. I need to change my lifestyle and eating habits but life is good. Don’t dismiss any indication of chest pain or dizziness. Get checked out immediately. Also, be aware that the normal stress test may not find the problem. I was fortunate to have a cardiologist that went the extra step and found the blockage when I was told by the head hospital surgeon that most Docs would have released me after the initial portion of the stress test and the eco check out OK.
Brian Thompson says
How did they find the blockage? Did they use Cardiac Catheterization? You are certainly lucky to still be around.
Im 46 yrs old, and for about 2 month’s had chest pain/heart burn, went to gi dr because i thought it was heart burn, because tums made it stop hurting.
Well gi dr sent me to heart dr, whom had a stress test done, it came back abnormal, so went in for a heart cath, and found out my LAD was 95% blocked, so they put a stent in.
Im so scared now, ive never had any health issues. Went to store to find good healthy food, and have no clue what im looking for, because at this rate it seems i cant eat anything. Im a smoker and have been trying to quit, im on blood pressure meds, closterol pills, and blood thinner, asprins.
Pat C says
I had a stent put in December 16th for a widowmaker. They also found a tear in the artery. They said I was lucky to be alive. I’m 62 and female. I guess this doesn’t happen to women that often. But I’m back in the hospital with jaw pain and burning in my chest from cardiac rehab and I’m very tired. My bp is very low 96/56. They want to do a treadmill test tomorrow but I don’t know how much I will be able to walk. Why would my bp be this low if everything was ok. I’m on blood thinners (Brilintia). Would this make my bp low? And I’m on Lipitor 10mg.
Susan B says
That is a stable B/P. You are likely on a beta blocker and that is meant to keep the heart slow and B/P low
Jim S says
I am a 47 year old male and had three stents inserted along the widow maker on Tuesday. Originally I thought I was going in for an angiogram and possibly a stent. It turns out I was over 99% blocked in three spots. I was given a few minutes to choose between open heart bypass or stents. A terrifying choice to make but I choose the later, hopefully it was the right decision. Either way, I am doubling down my efforts to stick to a Vegan diet which I have been on since the angina started four months ago. Also working on stress management and looking forward to exercise again now that I can walk without chest pain.
my husband didn’t visit the doctor for 12 years. he finally went on 10/26/15 because he didn’t feel well. he died 12/1/15! he had high blood pressure and cholesterol and also a large family history of heart disease. doctor ordered stress test, ECK and echocardiogram. all clear we were told. he died instantly (widow maker). wouldn’t have this major blockage shown on any of these tests? was it missed? he went to work and never came home. just don’t understand how he was under doctor’s care and this happened.
Brian Thompson says
I am sorry to hear about your loss. Unfortunately, those tests can not always predict if a Heart Attack is going to happen. That is the reason it is the leading cause of death. Those tests mainly check the circulation of the blood to the heart. If any of the 4 chambers of the heart is having problems, it would be detected. Further tests would be done on the arteries feeding that chamber. It is possible that your husband heart was fine. The widow maker is often caused by a collapse of a section of the artery wall. The arteries may not have been blocked. I hope this helps.
On May 17, 2014, I had a full pulmonary function test. (I had had full cardio function tests several years before and was fine, or so I thought.) The next night, I had severe chest pain, sweating, vomiting, weakness, chills. I had no idea what was going on, but later realized I could not make it to the phone even if I wanted to call someone. So I prayed “take me, or make the pain go away,” and went to sleep. Woke up Saturday feeling okay. Sunday morning I went grocery shopping and at checkout felt weak suddenly, nauseated, and had clammy skin. Made it to the car, then flagged down a grocery worker who called an ambulance for me.
I went into the cath lab pretty quickly in the hospital and had one or more stents place in my LAD. I was in ICU for several days, and more days in general bed. It was the WidowMaker that I somehow survived, but with significant heart muscle damage. Over the course of the following year, I had numerous hospital stays since now they were dealing with heart issues plus COPD, pneumonia, anemia and fluctuating blood pressure. I have had 9 stents to date. I never had cardiac arrest but had at least two respiratory arrest incidents (while in hospital or TCU), which placing me on a bipap machine took care of (thank God for bipap).
There were times that were really bad, physically and mentally, and it took a long stay in a Transitional Care Unit and daily physical rehab before I could finally go home with my brother, as I cannot live alone now. But I can walk again, have come off 24/7 oxygen after a year, and have an improved EF rating on my heart, no significant changes in my latest echocardiogram done a week ago.
Yes, I’ve had multiple heart attacks since the original, but somehow have survived. I can only figure I’m one of the survivors because I’m supposed to learn more lessons (including compassion) before it’s my time to go. Though more limited than previous days, I still have quality of life.
I strongly recommend cardio rehab and/or pulmonary rehab. I would like to see hospitals offer more videos such as this so patients can early on begin to comprehend what is going on with them (we don’t retain all information in the early days). Transitions would have been easier for me if I had had access to the internet to research all that was going on with me (they also discovered gall bladder disease through the course of hospitalizations).
By the way, I was not overweight, not drinking (I was smoking), am not diabetic, and had low blood pressure. The low blood pressure created problems in itself especially with regard to positional changes. I could black out if standing up suddenly. That is much improved with medicine and physical therapy but was a problem during recovery for a long time. At one point it was 70/40.
The loss of our “old self” can be depressing, but strive for quality of life and as much knowledge of your situation and what you can do to help yourself. Get support, do rehab and I wish you the best of the best.
My husband had this heart attack Dec 21/14. He went to bed that night, but got up later complaining of chest pains that wouldn’t go away. If we would have waited for the ambulance he would have died. I drove him to the hospital in the next town 10 miles away, doing 125, he walked into the emerge, they hooked up to the machines, the doctor and nurse were there, they gave him 2 aspirin to chew and before he was done he had died on the table, thanks to the doctor and the defibrillator they brought him back. They stabilized him and flew him to Calgary by Stars Air Ambulance. I thought I had lost my husband of 42 yrs, I was terrified. They did an angiogram and discovered one artery was 100% blocked, one was 95% and the third was 85%. Dec 29 they did a quadruple bypass, the Jan 7 they put in an ICD (implanted cardiovascular defibrillator). They explained to us that only 5% have survived what he went through that night. He has changed his whole outlook on life, lot 65lbs and walks 10-15 kl a day. We are now approaching our 43 anniversary. His heart has permanent damage on the bottom part, but he is alive and good to go.
My husband was 44 y/o, his lipid and cholesterol levels were text book perfect in September of 2014. He died in August of 2015. He was an avid runner, a former smoker and a vegetarian. We learned from his autopsy that he suffered pinpoint blockage in the LAD, 75% in the Left Circumflex Artery and 75% in the Right Coronary Artery. His doctor was speechless. This article was quite informative.
Penny Godfirnon says
I have been having numbness, pain, in my feet and legs. I have an extreme cardio vascular family history. a Brother with a heart attack at 29, my Father had his first heart attack at 34 and died at age 50 from a geart attack. My sister is 57 in a nuring home after a blockage , having stents which colasped afet two weeks, veing replacement in her legs followed by 3 strokes. She has vasculitus. So I schedualed an appoint with a cardio vascular Dr, went straight to him instead of my family care Dr who has ignored earlier chest pains , which went into the face. This Dr said the tests on my legs looked good. It was blood pressure cuffs, excersize, then re checking on a machine. Also a doppler was used. Now My husband wanted me to go with hima nd get Calcium score recommended by his employer as part of an incentive for insurance reduction. We went his score was a 1 mine was 132. It says LAD volume 105 and LAD AJ-130 132 I am almost 59 my husband is 62. I have never smoked am a pescatarian. ( no meat only fish) for 6 years this time, moderate activity, don’t use cooking oil, butter magarine . I eat lots of veggies fruits and fiber-grains. You thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Dr. Mustafa Ahmed says
It depends on the characteristics of the test, i would advise you have a cardiologist look at the test itself and go through the results with you as it varies from case to case depending on the location of the calcium etc. Your score suggests moderate risk, not high and not low, if you are not having symptoms no further testing would typically be suggested unless the location of the calcium and its pattern were particularly concerning. See what your heart Dr says.
pat casey says
on 2 28 16 7am had sharp pains in chest last about 10 min stop start again this went on for around 3 hrs started vomiting and sweating had wife take me er hooked me up ekg heartattack had ambulance take me other town about 40 min drive half way there had shock me 3 times got to cath lab 100% blockage said was widowmaker lucky i survied placed stint
Just wondering what life expectancy is for someone who’s had a heart attack, survived, from 100% blocked LAD, that’s cannot be fixed.
Dr. Mustafa Ahmed says
It depends on many factors such as the exercise tolerance and the pumping function of the heart and other risk factors. This would be individualized on a patient by patient basis. Many people can go on to life relatively normally particularly if the heart function is preserved.
EF of 40%. 2 vessel bypass surgery 16 yrs ago. Age 66. Uncontrolled diabetes and unable to exercise. Mild COPD. Smoker. Endurance is very poor. I don’t paint a nice picture, huh? :/
My calcium score 101, stress test showed mild LAD atherosclerosis. I have sharp recurring pain to left of sternum, behind 4th rib. Pain is intense and is not relieved by 5 mg nitro. No dizziness, nausea, vomiting, just the pain which usually lasts about 10 seconds, goes away, then returns about 20 minutes later. This usually happens in the evening when I am not active, even when laying in bed reading. My cardiologist doesn’t seem concerned when I tell him about the pain but I am scared. What next?
Dr. Mustafa Ahmed says
The pain seems atypical and not typical of the angina experienced with blockages. Regardless the key here is that you have seen a specialist who has determined you to be at low risk determined on the tests performed. Its difficult to advise regarding chest pain without seeing a patient, examining them and seeing the tests. It is reassuring however that you have had an opinion from a specialist and that your symptoms are relatively reassuring. Further work up may concentrate on non cardiac causes of pain, such as GI.
Thank you, Sir. Very concise and easy to understand. I lost my father to an LAD massive heart attack. Just wish he had had some symptoms so we could have done something. He just collapsed and none of the emergency personnel could help him. Maybe he was having symptoms and we just didn’t recognize it. Sigh. I’ll never get over this. But your presentation explained exactly what happened. In a way, it’s helped me.
GAYLENA CARLY says
HI, I AM A FEMALE THAT IS 63 YEARS OLD HAD MY FIRST HEART ATTACK ON MARCH 18, 2016 WENT TO THE ER THAT EVENING THE EKG’S CAME UP NEGATIVE… YES NEGATIVE.. STAYED IN THE HOSPITAL UNTIL THAT MONDAY WHEN THEY INDUCE THE HEART WITH DYE AND I HAD MY 2 ATTACK … I ALSO HAVE RSD. WHICH IS NERVE DAMAGE.. THEY THEN KNEW I HAD SOME KIND OF PROBLEM.. THEY PUT A CATHERIA IN MY LEFT GROIN THEN SHIPPED ME TO ANOTHER HOSPITAL. I WAS GIVEN NITRO DRIP FOR 8 HOURS BECAUSE THE HOSPITAL HAD 5 MAJOR CASES BEFORE ME. I WAS AWAKE AND FELT EVERY BIT OF PAIN 6 TIME FOLD… SCREAMED FOR THE LORD TO TAKE ME BUT INSTEAD 4 ANGELS APPEARED AND TOLD ME I WASN’T READY TO GO… THE PLACE THEIR HANDS ON MY SHOULDERS AND THE PROCEDURE WAS DONE… THE SURGEON CAME UP THAT EVENING AND COULD NOT BELIEVE WHAT HE GAVE ME I WASN’T FEELING. HE SAID A ELEPHANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN PUT DOWN… GOD PURPOSE WAS FOR ME TO TELL MY STORY… LIFE IS GOOD.
Susan Barnard says
My son passed away on 7/17/14 at the age of 23 as a result of a train accident. The autopsy results (autopsy is required by law in our state when a fatality occurs on a train track) indicated my son had the “widow maker” condition and the medical examiner wrote that his life expectancy would have been less than 30 years. At the time of his death my son had just undergone many pre op tests in anticipation of having gastric sleeve surgery and had just been approved/scheduled for the surgery. Some of these tests included examination of his heart. There is a history of heart disease in the family on both sides. My question is why wouldn’t this problem have been indicated on any of the tests just done, especially if it was as severe as the medical examiner indicated on his report? My son had only had one “episode” of shortness of breath and chest pain that I ever knew of in the past at which time I took him to a cardiologist who diagnosed him with a mild arrhythmia problem similar to mine (his Mother) and his maternal Grandfather. This issue has really bothered me since his death and receiving the information in the autopsy since we never knew anything about it.
Dr. Mustafa Ahmed says
Its difficult to say too much without knowing the specifics of the report. It would be very out of the norm for him to have a significant lesion in an artery at the age of 23 although its possible. Although there may have been a lesion it does not necessarily mean it was of impending trouble particularly if stress tests were unremarkable. No tests we have are perfect however and clinical judgement needs to be combined. Its possible that ultimately if the lesion had become a problem he would have developed more symptoms and had the appropriate work up done. The presence of a lesion alone would not mean a life expectancy less than 30 years, particularly if managed appropriately.
Joe G says
I have two stents in my LAD, but never had a heart attack. At age 40 I was overweight, a smoker and drinker. I had mild chest pains, and a stress test showed no blockage. My Cardiologist, noting that several family members died of the widowmaker type attacks, convinced me to stop smoking and drinking booze. I lost 35 pounds, and increased my exercise regimen. He kindly advised that he was taking my pulse immediately after the treadmill, and then again after 10 minutes, as the rate recovery was an important symptom. 30 years later, I was in China, and decided to climb up the steep Great Wall. When I stopped for a rest, I took my pulse (124) and I thought I would continue after a 10 minute recovery. After 10 minutes it was still (124)! I came down slowly, noting that there were no emergency services in the lower area. I came back to the USA and sought advice from my Doctor. She ordered a stress test with dye, and discovered two 90% blockages, requiring two stents. Prior to that, I had minor pressure in my chest occasionally, but thought it was heartburn. I am grateful that my life has been extended (I’m now 74) and wrote a thank you note to the first cardiologist, who is now retired, thanking him for his early advice.
Hi I’m a 57 year old mail I had two heart attacks and heart failure within 1 hour July 2014 two blood vessels r dead and I’m on 8 medicines but I’m still weak Franklin I’m still scared my father and grandfather die because their heartfelt exploded I’m still trying to figure out why thank you 4 listening 2 me I hope to hear back thank you
mohd javed says
Sir it is possible doctor did angioplasty they didn’t do blood test echo anything only they see 2 before report and done angioplasty… I’m shock it is possible I lost my mother..pls sir give me response…
mohd javed says
Sir it is possible doctor did angioplasty they didn’t do blood test echo anything only they see 2 month before report and done angioplasty… I’m shock it is possible I lost my mother..pls sir give me response…
My 42 year old daughter (e-cig smoker) and overweight had chest pain on exertion, good lipid panel and normal EKG had 99% block LAD got 2 stents April 1. Strong family hx (father cabg x’s 3 age 57 and alive and well, and paternal uncles sudden death age 49, atherosclerosis and other paternal uncle MI age 37 and cabg age 56, sudden death age 61 presumably MI in his sleep. So now she will do low fat diet (Mediterrian) exercise and smoking cessation. What is her chances of long life?
Dr. Mustafa Ahmed says
It not possible to predict a length of life, some people in this situation can go on to do well and others poorly. Surveillance and management are important. I would advise being as aggressive as possible with risk factor modification. Very aggressive lipid lowering therapy. Lifestyle modification. Awareness of symptoms that need investigation, and close follow up. BP control. Diet. Exercise. These factors are the best we have.
Gregory M. Cantway says
Was wondering how a 99% blockage was missed after complaining of chest pains, and heart palpitation and other things….many EKG’s were done and nothing,as of Apr 22, 2016 I had a major heart attack they call the widow maker how was this misses after all the complaints? I have told my Dr’s,and nothing was done. They all told me it was Anxiety attacks, panic attacks. Thank “GOD” I made it to the hospital in time,went from ambulance to the cath lab,they didnt have time to prep.
Karen Murphy says
On January 11th 2016 I went in for a Total right hip replacement. I am a 53 year old female.
The day after my operation I had some chest pressure and heart burn but thought nothing of it. On day 2 it happened again only this time I had pins and needles across my entire chest. It lasted about 15 minutes. Then more pressure and a heavy feeling so I told my nurse that something felt odd? Maybe a side effect from surgery ? Heart burn? No I was having a Heart Attack ! I couldn’t believe it? I was able to call my husband at work just before they rushed me out the door to another Hospital that had a Cath lab! I need blood since I was post -op but my body rejected the transfusion. So we had to wait until it was safe to do the angio. I had a 75% blockage at the top of my LAD and got a stent.I hear they call this the Widow Maker…….. not today Mr Reaper!!!!!!
Karen Murphy says
PS// I forgot to mention I passed all my pre-op testing with flying colors!!!!!!! Never any other health issues for me but a History of heart in my family.
Mary Ann McAndrew says
My last angiogram was 2 years ago and I had a 50% blockage in the front part of my heart. I wasn’t aware of the location until my G.P. told me and sounded concern.My cardiologist has never mentioned this to me, unless he has to my family.I am suppose to have oral surgery next week and mention to my doctor that I suffer with angina and have a small blockage in the front of the heart which my oral surgeon called it LAD. Having never heard of this term before, I decided to look this up. No one ever told me the seriousness of this or that if the blockage gets worse that I can die from whats called the widow maker. Not only am I having oral surgery but will also have a knee replacement this summer and a year ago I had major back surgery. I am now afraid of having these procedures knowing what i know now. Should I get another angiogram since I did only 3 minutes on the thread mill and had severe angina. My cardiologist left it up to me; he said my EKG looked better than it ever had, but also said that my EKG’s have always been abnormal.I recall him telling me years ago that I scared him…now Im the one whose scared! Your advice would be appreciated. Thank you very much!!
Mary Ann McAndrew says
I forgot to mention that my brother who is now 73, (five years older than me) suffered from sudden death in his early forty’s. Luckily the paramedics were just down the road from where he was working. He had open heart surgery and the problem was corrected, but have since needed a defibulator He had been near death so many times until they implanted the defibulator; thanks to God and then his doctors; he is still with us!!! Thanks again!!!
I was just told that I have 100% blockage in the left main artery. It was discovered by my neurologist after an MRA. He said he did not understand why I didn’t have a full blown stroke or heart attack. I had taken an MRI a couple weeks earlier, and he said I had a couple of mini-strokes. He told me that the blockage cannot be unblocked. I go for more tests today, and I am trying to stay calm, however, I am really scared. Does this mean I am looking at a widowmaker?
Dr. Mustafa Ahmed says
If picked up on an MRI by a neurologist i doubt they are talking about the heart artery, maybe one of the head and neck vessels.
Today is my anniversary of when the stent was placed. Last year, May 26, 2015 I had a stent placed in my LAD with 99% blockage. On May 23, 2015 I was feeling under the weather. I was sluggish and tired. So, I napped all day. I thought maybe I was coming down with something. I remember the previous day (the 22nd) I was nauseated and smelled a gas smell. It made me feel queasy. I also had an ache in my neck. But, I just thought this was all from stress and lack of sleep. The sensitivity of smell was weird. On May 23, at 10 pm I checked my blood sugar. I was diagnosed in 2014 of type 2 diabetes.So, my blood sugar was about 170 with medication. I could not get it down. I was tired, but decided to hop on my treadmill to help my sugar go down. I walked for about 3 minutes and was so winded. I had no energy at all. I felt like I did not have sleep for days. As I stood on the treadmill, I started feeling anxious. Then my left upper arm felt tight. Like someone put a rubber band around it or a blood pressure cuff was pumped too tight. I also became short of breath. I waited 10 minutes, think I was having an anxiety attack. It would not go away. I woke my husband up and he drove me to ER. My BP was normal and the EKG was normal. But they gave me nitroglycerin, and I remember eating a bunch of aspirin, they gave me an IV and withdrew blood. It was all blur. Then the doctor came in and said my troponin levels were high. I may be having a heart attack. They gave me more meds, but no emergency surgery like I am seeing in these postings. They kept checking my troponin every couple hours. They said if it keeps rising , it is bad. If it decreases, things will be ok. May 26 in the early morning I was transferred to get an angiogram. I had the stent placed. Until today, I still am processing it all. I went to cardiac rehab June of 2015, but stopped two months later because I had another health issue. I took care of that issue and I am now starting June 2016, next month. I hope everyone on this page will do fine. i struggle still. I am 42 years old. I went to counseling, but it did not really help with my anxiety. I often get scared and start thinking that I might have another heart attack. I think maybe I have PTSD from it or some kind of anxiety. I want to start dr. Essylstyn’s reverese Heart Disease program. It is a strict plant based diet. But, I cant handle this worry anymore. Do any of you ever feel alone? My whole world view has changed. All the things that were important are no longer important. I have changed. I have two boys and they are the world to me. Does anyone feel this way.?I am grateful to be alive and I am thankful for the doctors. But, I am different. Maybe I need to join a support group.
Judy Kelsey says
Very much have same story and I’m still having chest pains and they can’t find anything on EKG so they make me feel like I’m just over worried but I had a heart attack two stints and I’m type 2 and now they want to treat me for copd I feel like I’m fighting for my life so yes I would like to join a group
kim Miller says
I am 47 I have c.a.d of both the left main and lad, diagnosed approx 20%-30 4 years ago. Why is it not possible to get a procedure done before a heart attack occurs as it seems my very top of the left stem is ‘the mother of widowmakers’ and I’m taking it you meant my chances of survival are next to none. Why can’t I have another test to see how far it’s progressed in 4 years …. They say the ‘dye’ is dangerous but am I also right thinking a stent or other procedure in my case is too risky as could cause the fatal attack being very top main and lad? I’m so frightened please answer. Kim
Dr. Mustafa Ahmed says
Read the post ‘did that stent save my life’ i wrote it a while back, there is never a benefit to treating 20-30% lesions with stents.
kim Miller says
I will thank you but what’s to say it’s not greatly increased from 20-30 in 4 turbulent years if no one will check for a recent prognosis.
kim Miller says
And thank you for taking the time to reply.
kim Miller says
Meaning from 20/30 to now a serious amount in left main and lad
kim Miller says
My dad died of heart disease at 62 andi have had previous alcohol and smoking habits and i feel as iv only overcome them recently in 4 years my blockages could have become way worse quicker than normal. Please don’t judge me for past problems they were symptomatic of alot of things and I can’t turn the clock back but I feel like any time is my time and it’s terrifying me.thank you
kim Miller says
Please please reply i don’t have a cardiologist no one will help me understand
Bruce Haines says
Sadly, I had to come to this site to find out why my best friend, aged 49 died on a business trip in his sleep a few days ago. Found out it was precisely this condition. Overworked, not taking care of himself, it was a shock and just so needless. Fortunately I’m exercising regularly, keeping my weight under control and am lucky enough to now realize this condition and what it can do. If any of you read this comment, there is an ancillary issue that my friend unfortunately ignored and that was he had no life insurance. How does someone that age not have life insurance?!! Now his wife and kids are really in a bind. Again, I do have life insurance, but I’m not going to be shy about asking all my friends to (a) drop the stupid weight they may have – exercise, (b), eat better – cut out the processed foods if possible, no breads, not heavy fried foods, low starch, high fruit and vegetable, minimal red meat, more fish, nuts, coconut oil, no desserts, no sugary drinks, etc.. you all know the drill and (c) get some life insurance just in case and (d) get an annual physical. My friend hadn’t seen a doctor in over 2 years and they might have caught this condition. So, stay healthy, be smart, and avoid heart disease because there is so much more to do in life for all of us! I can’t help my friend, but I’m going to make it a mission to try and help those around me stay alive as long as possible by taking better care of themselves.
Dr. Mustafa Ahmed says
You nailed it with your recommendations. Spot on.
Angela Little says
I’m so sorry, Bruce, for your friend. Thank you for sharing this information to help others.
Angela Little says
This was an excellent video! I’m a court stenographer and so I was editing a transcript of a cardiologist I had on the stand. She used “LAD” so I was researching it for accuracy of my transcript. This video will definitely make writing another cardiologist on the witness stand much easier now because I will know exactly what they’re talking about. Court reporters rely on information like this to make our jobs easier.
Again, thank you so much for the very informative video.
OK, My Mom’s on the hospital right now with blockage, but they won’t do the upper part until her kidneys get better from the heart attack she had last Friday. Fairly sure she’s going to be ok, but after reading all this, I’m wondering is there any way to “test” your heart? I’ve had stress test before, that I passed with flying colors, but am now getting “concerned”. I’m 54 and haven’t smoked for the past 3-1/2 years. What should I do to prevent a heart attack? Or is this a dumb question? Eat right, exercise? No, I’ve read all these articles and people under 40 have been 100% healthy and then get hit with the widowmaker,,!! What can one do to prevent? Thanks.
sumit das says
my uncle is having severe heart attack on 30/06/2016 , and after doing coronary angiogram report it is found that out of three artery one is 100% block and another two is 99% and 80% , what treatement will be useful to survive my uncle , we very much afraid please give your kind suggestion .
Dr. Mustafa Ahmed says
Sounds like bypass surgery is the best option if hes a candidate
sumit das says
my uncle is having severe heart attack on 30/06/2016 , and after doing coronary angiogram report it is found that out of three artery one is 100% block and another two is 99% and 80% , what treatement will be useful to survive my uncle , we very much afraid please give your kind suggestion .what is the survival measure to prevent , thanks
Dona mckinley says
I had a heart attack June 21, (didn’t know it at the time though) thought it was indigestion/ something stuck in my gullet. I remember I had a small episode in the morning as well, but it went away quickly. I had a nap in the afternoon, a phone call from a telemarketer woke me up. Immediately after I felt like something was stuck in my gullet, then a burning sensation between my shoulder blades that quickly became a pain that ran from my underarms to my fingers (like an electric shock). I felt sick, out of breath and jaw pain. We went to the ER at our nearest hospital, had and EKG, blood test and X-ray. A couple of hours later a doctor came with the blood test results and told me that I had had a heart attack. Had an angiogram the next day. Cardiologist located a 95% blockage in the LAD where they placed a stent. All my other arteries were smooth and clear. My blood pressure and cholesterol is excellent and I am not overweight. The only thing I have is family history, father and both younger brothers have had heart attacks.
So I had one stent placed LAD. No heart attack, but a 90% blockage was giving me chest pains. Started anti-platelet medication with aspirin daily. About a year later, I start having the same exact pain again. Dr. says come on in and let’s do a treadmill stress test. After the stress test, he says everything looks great! 2 weeks later a full on heart attack. The stent was actually 99% blocked. So they stented the stent. I asked can you stent a stented stent? They said yes. One thing is, do go by ambulance. You get much higher priority that way. I sat in the ER lobby as a “walk-in” for an hour, laid in the ER bed another 5 hours. After they wait and wait and wait, the blood tests finally came back with high levels of Troponin (evidence of a heart attack). It took another 9 hours to get me to the cath lab. I don’t know. I think the insurance companies see stents as being much cheaper than a bypass. But which one is really the better outcome for the patient long-term? That is the question. I think the bottom line is stents are a short-term fix. In time, they just clog-up, and you’re back to where you started.
Stumbled upon this site after hearing my surgeon say the word widowmaker while in ICU after my heart attack. I am a 49 yo woman, fairly active, I live in the country and raise cattle, meat goats and chickens. I am a full time book keeper for a not for profit agency. Married 31 years, 3 grown children. No undue stress that I was aware of. I had rotater cuff repair on June 4, 2016. After my surgery, I began getting headaches at least once a day, at the base of my skull, this was soon followed by chest pressure. This usually happened in the evening while out feeding, in the heat and humidity. I actually thought just had a brain tumor starting and the chest pain was from anxiety about it. I would always go in and take a hydrocodone (from my shoulder surgery) and eat a couple of Tums. The pain always went away. On July 15th I went with my husband to his work related conference for the weekend, 3 hours from home. That afternoon, the pain began. I had been in an air conditioned total all day. Horrible headache, very severe chest pain, shortness of breath and pain in my jaw like you wouldn’t believe, lots of nausea. This was not going away even with the regular meds I took. Husband called an ambulance, got to level one trauma hospital in the Nick of time, I was told. Turns out that I had 3 blockages In my LAD ranging from 70 to 99 percent. Also had a 100 percent blockage in my Mid RCA. 4 stents placed in two stages through both femoral arteries. I am home now and feeling pretty good. So so glad not to have those headaches anymore, They actually hurt worse than the chest pressure. Long story, I know, just wanted to give background of myself as what I always thought to be a younger fairly healthy person. Family history of heart issues and high blood pressure counted by medication. I think this was brought on by job related stress ( Illinois governor refusing to sign a state budget for a year), smoking half a pack a day for 35 years and eating too much sodium. Just am very thankful for the fantastic cardio team at the hospital and so glad I went on that trip. We live an hour from the nearest heart hospital. I don’t think I would have survived had I been home. Thank you for letting me run on because I know my family is probably sick of hearing me tks about it, lol. Long story short (too late), never ignore those symptoms, it could be the last bad decision you ever make. Hugs to you all.
Milan R. says
Thank you for all your stories. Does make me feel a little bit better. Four years ago, I was driving home on a Friday afternoon (I was a long haul truck driver) and started having a funny feeling in my chest. I thought nothing of it, thought it was just something I ate. Saturday, still had the chest pain, but Sunday morning, I had my wife take me to the ER. The immediately transported me to another hospital with a cath lab. I was having a heart attack. Little did I know then, my LAD was completely blocked. I had two stents placed and seemed to be doing fine. Three days later I was released. Exactly one month later, I had another heart attack. The stents were blocked. I remember getting out of another cath and my cardiologist telling me the stents were blocked and he wasn’t going to do anything as my heart was doing it’s own bypass. It was then that he told me I was a lucky man, that I had survived two “widow maker” heart attacks. He kept me a few more days to keep an eye on the “self-made” bypass. After being released, I really started changing my diet, up to the point I lost 60 lbs. Now I have been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. I also have a mitral valve prolaspe. I feel very lucky to be here today and am so thankful to wake up each morning. Again, thanks to all of the stories. It does encourage me to do all I can to make even more lifestyle changes to become as healthy as I can be.
John C says
So I haven’t a question and I’m trying to make an informed decision. I had a nuclear stress test. I lasted until the 4th. Stage at9:40 seconds with heart rate at 141. I thought I knocked it out of the park I’m 59. Years old.
My cardiologist admitted me that day and the following morning I had a heart catheterization through my wrist. I was wide awake and talking with the Doctorthe whole time. . He was explaining what was happeneing. A few times I could really feel a pain in my heart that I have never experienced. He said that was when he ran the catheter up the arteries.
He stopped and said this isn’t where we are at. You have 100% blockage of the Widow maker artery and he said it looks like it’s been there for awhile. My body constructed collateral arteries around the blockage and that’s what’s feeding my heart. He said I think I can put a stent in but if I do the collateral possibly will deflate and if he can’t keep it open I could have a heart attack on the table.
He said a third option is to have a single bypass that replaces the LAD with the right mamary artery which would be a lifelong option. He said for whatever reason that artery never gets blocked.
They also said the can do it with a keyhole operation that goes between the ribs so the chest bone is not split. I had no symptoms other than a throat that hurts as if you do exercise in cold whether. I didn’t have any symptoms on the treadmill but they said the EKG showed heart tissue in slight distress.
My choices, stay with what I have and use drugs to limit my heart rate or have the bypass with its inherent risks. Would appreciate any and all opinions.
I’m 59, don’t drink or smoke in good shape but I’m not running 5ks or really doing what I did on the treadmill.
John C says
Sorry about the spelling this auto check kills me
Bobby McC says
I am 54 years old and overweight. I’m very very active though. work hard (mechanic) and play hard, Jetskis, UTVs, swim, travel ect… I was coming back from a jets race on Aug14th and was dumping the septic system on my RV. all of a sudden i was overcome with chest pain and both arms hurt really bad. My wife and one of my daughters was with me. they were freaked out. I told them stubbornly that after i sit for a minute i will be ok its just heat stroke. but it took over 30 min before i was able to function again. i blew it off. got home parked and unloaded trailer. on Monday the 15th I helped a neighbor move cars around that we were going to work on and felt the same pain. I told him I was not feeling well and went home (next door). rested and went to bed. The next morning I returned to work and felt really crappy. no energy, sluggish, brain real foggy, left arm was very weak. so i left work and felt better when I got home. I called my Doctor after my wife threatned me with every thing she will have to do after I’m dead. the docs nurse said go to ER now, but I compromised with meeting him the next morning at 6AM. i went to the appointment and he gave me a Tongue lashing as well and said call your wife to pick you up right now and drive straight to ER. I complied! within 2 hours i was on a operation table and getting a stent in my left descending artery. it had 95% blockage. Im writing this to give my scenario and maybe it will help another stubborn person to make better decisions that I did! I am still here on this side of glory by the Grace of God!
Bobby McC says
Sorry to correct but after looking at my paperwork from hospital it was the LAD artery.
My husband had a LAD heart attack on July 6th. He was an active, relatively fit man, of 41. His heart attack happened on the squash court, doing an easy drill. He was not out of breath or sweating. He just dropped unconscious. There was an ambulance tech in the neighboring court who went to work on him immediately. There was an AED device right there that they used. The ambulance arrived in 8 minutes. They had special new equipment for treating heart attacks.
They got him to the hospital, but his heart never started again and he never regained consciousness. I made it to the hospital before they took him off life support.
I have a 6 year old. My husband was a stay-at-home Dad. We miss him.
And I did pray in the hospital. I did pray that he would live.
He did not.
On December 30, 2016 I had the “widow maker” that trumps ALL widow makers. I was 42 at the time and had just left e hospital where my husband had an MRI on his back. We was a couple blocks from the hospital and went to get some lunch. We had just gotten our food and I started feeling very nauseated! Next, came the horrifying chest and arm pain!! It hit hard and fast!!! I told my husband I didn’t feel good and was going to the restroom. He could tell by the look on my face something bad was wrong and said that he was going with me. I told him no! Lol I was holding my chest and telling him I was really hurting and my arms were hurting bad as well. He said we have to go!!! So within 3-4 minutes of onset of heart attack we was at the ER. I was nauseated and trying to throw up and felt like I was going to lose control of my bowels with the worst chest and arm pain I could ever imagine!!! They immediately took me back and stripped my clothes off and did two EKG’s back to back while prepping me for the cath lab and placing IV’s in both arms. My husband asked if they could give me some nitro and the ER doctor told him that the type of heart attack that I was having it wouldn’t help. I had a rupture in plaque at the top of the left main artery that caused two blood clots to form. One in the LAD and one in the Circumflex at the top where the arteries “Y”. I had two cardiologist in the cath lab working with me and placed two stents. Five days later I was back in the ER diagnosed with TIA (mini strokes). I am doing very well now. The hot Arkansas summer has been really hard on me causing my HR to go up to 158 when outside. I also get very dizzy when I stand up and start to walk and nausea just hits me out of the blue and I break out in a cold sweat when that happens. I am scheduled for my next appointment with my cardiologist in October 2016. My doctor put me on Brilinta for the first month and then changed it to Plavix along with the Carvedilol (generic Coreg). All arteries are clear; my doctor said most people my age have some plaque and the rupture in plaque is what caused my heart attack. When I got to the hospital my EF was 22% after stent placement my cardiologist said my EF was at about 50%. I was just very very lucky to have been so close to the hospital. My doctor said that if I would have been home 20 minutes away from hospital I would not of survived!!! I would just like to say thank you Jesus and thank you to all the doctors who have dedicated their lives to saving others lives!!!❤
My name is Chris. I had the window maker, mine was a 99.999% blockage of the left main ventricle of my heart. I walked in, woke up and had stints, and was told, “You are the luckiest man alive”. I asked how they knew it was 99.999, and was shown that the main artery of my heart was slowing only one platelet through at a time, otherwise it would have been 100%. This widowmaker article scared me, it is written so well. If you have any doubts about your symptoms, go in and get a cardiac nuclear stress test or something similar. Symptoms do present in subtle ways to SCD but often people respond too late. Great article! My story is at: https://www.google.com/amp/www.climbing.com/.amp/news/luckiest-man-alive-and-the-widow-maker/
Autocorrect changed my words. The first should read: “99.999℅ blockage of the left main artery of the left ventricle of my heart.”. Also, “…the left main artery of my heart was showing only one platelet going through at a time, therefore my artery was the size of a capillary…”
I just lost my brother to the Widowmaker I am wondering if it is in inherited Factor. My brother was only 58 years old and died suddenly in his sleep from this tragic heart attack. Also, we lost my great-grandfather at the same age and diagnosis. I am only 53 and now wonder if it will affect me in my lifetime.
Dr…What are the significant effects(if any) of the vinegar+honey+garlic+ginger+lemon juice to the plaque formation in the coronary arteries as heralded on the net…some calimed that the juice could reduce the plaque in the arteries.
Dr. Mustafa Ahmed says
No conventional evidence is available, certainly no traditional medical practitioner would be recommending it as a cure.
I am a 76 year old female, still working reasonably fit. I am vegetarian with healthy eating.I suffer Parkinson’s, Osteopinia, an Atrial Fibrillation…Lone ( 3-5times month) I take Eliquis x 2 daily, and Flecainide as PIP
I have over a few weeks,been suffering with left side chest pain above breast area, sometimes sharp sometimes dull. Usually brief but the dull type can linger on. I seem to be a bit short of breath at times.
I went to ER last week and was kept overnight, the Cardiologist who attended mt did a CT without contrast but wanted me to come back and have a contrasting scan under supervision( I am allergic to Iodine) after he has spoken to my regular Cardiologist .
My cardiologist apparently got quite annoyed and told this other cardiologist I did not need it as I panic about chest pain when it’s only AFib ( which I don’t as I have quite severe attacks and I manage them at home by myself quite well)
I guess my question is, as my family has a long history of heart related deaths, should I persevere with the scan and ignore my Cardiologists comments.
Each time I see him he takes my blood pressure tells me I’m fine and gets annoyed if I ask questions about my symptons.
I understand at my age I should expect some health issues, but I surely am entitled to pursue treatment if I believe it will help.
Dr. Mustafa Ahmed says
If you are uncomfortable with the advice i don’t think anyone would begrudge you getting a second opinion to seek reassurance regarding the chest pain. Alternatively ask the initial Dr for a more reassuring explanation regarding you symptoms as they are scary to you.
Rick Wilcox says
I just went through this. On August 11th of this year I experienced chest pains radiateing into the left arm and up into my jaw. By the time the ambulance crew arrived, The pain was subsiding and I was feeling alot better. They hooked me up to the monitor and things were looking good there but I went to the hospital as a precaution. All my bloodwork came back normal but they kept me overnight in order to do a stress test the next morning. Results from the stress test showed an abnormality so another night in the hospital to do a resting test the next day. Those results came back normal. I was released from the hospital and told to follow up with a Cardio Dr. After seeing the Cardio Dr, he scheduled me for a Cardio Catheterization. I went in for that procedure and 2 1/2 hours later came out of the OR with 2 stints installed. Things were so bad, they had to go up both legs to put the stints in. The next day, the Dr told me what I had and said he had to call in another Cardio Specialist during my procedure. I am an extremely lucky person to have survived this.
Sunil Modi says
Very informative article and pictures of before and after the procedure. Invisible illness is the toughest to deal with and heart disease is on the top of that spectrum. I actually have something in common with you as I too have felt the need for invisible illness to be felt. For that reason, I started a free App called Reachout (www.reachout.life) where you can connect with others with chronic conditions including heart disease. Empathy and hope is all we are looking for and the app is just another tool to get connected with those who care.
Had a quadruple bypass 12 years ago actually had 100 per cent LAD blockage. Went to Dr. and he called to make a appointment for a stress test with cardiologist who was on first floor of offices. They had a cancellation and my Doctor took me down to their office, and the cardiologist was present when they did the nuclear test. I was only on treadmills about a minute and they stopped it and told me that they would have the pictures from the hospital in about a hour and to notify my wife to come in to review them with me.
After reviewing the pictures I was transported to the hospital thirty miles away where the cardiologist did the Heart Catherization and advised me because of the blockages and the location he could not stent.
The following morning surgery was performed and I went home in three days Blessed to be alive, I will say that I do not really believe I felt absolutely healthy until about 6 months later
Had some depression.
But today and for the last couple weeks I get dizzy when I get out of bed at night and even when I lie back down seem to be lighted headed quite a bit. Today while stacking firewood
Everything fine but have had leg and hip pain for last hour and dizzy when laying down.
God so Blessed me giving me these extra years with family.
Thanks for letting me express
My husband had a heart attack yesterday (today since I’m still awake)..We had no idea what was happening but I convinced him to go to er. As soon as we arrived, he was checked in, rushed to a room, ekg, some questions and we were told it was a heart attack. Within minutes, he was in the cath lab. After nearly 1.5 hours, the cardiologist came and told me they had to put in a stent because his LAD was 100% blocked. I asked him for more specific info and he said “we refer to this form of heart attack as the widow maker”. The blockage was right at the “Y”. He told me we got there just in time or he wouldn’t have been here tomorrow.
I am very thankful for knowledgeable doctors and er staff, nurses, etc. Mostly I am thankful to God for watching over our family. We have 4 kids at home..ages 9, 2, 17mos and 5mos.
Thank you for posting this article. Even after the cardiologist explained to me, I still didn’t understand. Now I feel better-equipped to take care of him and to (hopefully) never have this happen again!
God Bless and good health!
My husband had a “widow maker” attack Christmas eve, 2013. He was only 32 at the time. Our little 3 month old baby slept soundly, not fifteen feet away from where he had collapsed and where the paramedics worked on him. We live in a small town with an ill-equipped hospital, so he was flown to the nearest city by STARS (helicopter ambulance). He was in the hospital for 2 weeks and came out with 4 stents. Reading all of these stories makes it feel like it just happened yesterday and my brain is being flooded with memories I had pushed to the back or just haven’t thought about in awhile. Bless you all; it is an extremely difficult thing to deal with – as the patient, AND the patient’s family. We are so lucky to still have him with us.
Sunday, Oct 4,2015 Had 1 year of intermittent very mild chest tightness with exertion and about a month of sharp electrical zapping sensation from my heart down to my legs. Woke up early with mild chest tightness, pain in left jaw, (bit my tongue) and had shoulder/upper back pain. Went to urgent care. EKG was ok, cardiac enzymes slightly elevated but normal. My dad had MI in 40ties. Thankfully I was kept over night and did GXT next morning. I was praying for something to show and it did! Heart went into V tach. Cath lab found 95% blockage of LAD, widow maker. Spent the night.. Was having painful headaches daily for about a month but felt much better. Took a few days off then went back to work on light duty. After reading the information on this site I am very thankful to be alive. Guess God has plans for me yet……
Forgot to mention they placed one stent.
I just had the widow maker this thanksgiving. I have had no problem before and was pretty healthy. I did a good workout and took a shower then carved the turkey and ham. I made a plate and was almost done when it felt like I had bad heartburn. This went on for about 45 minutes. I tried everything to get it to stop. I finally called a ambulance and when they cam it got better. I told them it was better and sent them away. Then it came back but the ambulance hadn’t left yet. Well thank God. I walk to it laid down and things got real bad.
Siren and horn blowing we went. Got two stints with one more to go in couple weeks. I was in hospital for only two days. Things came out real good so far. I am 50 and never had any trouble till then. God has stuff I need to do, I guess. These things can come out of no where with out warning. I got lucky. God is love and I guess I got more love to spread in God’s name. I am going to be on top of things now.
B. Clinton says
What do you do when your doctor tells you that you have 100% blockage in your right rear artery? I was also told nothing more can be done. I have a total of 13 stents and have had 2 open heart by pass surgeries. I have a history of heart disease in my family. Father died at age 65yrs my aunt’s and identical twin died at age 56yrs. I am 62yrs old and diabetic which is under control. I eat very healthy and I am just thru went my current doctor he told my husband I should have been dead a long time ago.
I have been fighting this heart issue for 16 yrs.
Rod Fletcher says
Very informative Dr. Ahmed, an excellent resource.
I had a widowmaker August 2014, 95% blocked. Was fitted with a bare metal stent. The following day I became aware of a constant sensation on the left side of my chest as if someone was resting their hand on my chest. I also started to get small chest pains, was told it was anxiety. I argued with the health professionals as I felt I had no anxious thoughts. They eventually believed me when in the following February when an angiogram showed the bare metal stent was 95% blocked. A drug-eluting was placed inside the existing stent (dodged two bullets in six months!). Since having the second stent inserted, the sensation in my chest I described earlier, developed into numbness in my left shoulder upper left arm and lower left leg. It was also accompanied with stabbing pain in left upper arm, intense deep cramp type pain in the left shoulder (and sometimes to a lesser degree duplicated in the right shoulder and arm), occasional sting from the stent area, a weird taste and smell, sometimes metallic,strange sensation where my windpipe feels like a metal tube and my breathing is laboured. Worst of all, most of the sensations that I felt when I had my heart attack, tightness across the shoulders, heavy in the arms and a feeling of utter despair.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, January 16, the deep cramp and pain in my left shoulder and arm began to be duplicated in my buttocks and legs.
I have had immune issues all my life (62 years), low Igg and I have have again been arguing that I am intolerant to the stents. The medicos tell me it is unlikely. After 18 months the rheumatologist who has been treating me is starting to accept my theory. He has been treating me unsuccessfully for Shoulder hand syndrome (believing it was triggered by the heart attack). High doses of prednisolone have left me with type2 diabetes and osteoporosis.
The stents no doubt saved my life but presently I don’t have much to call a life. It has been a hell of a journey.
I am curious to know if the stented area of the LAD can be bypassed and the stents removed? I asked my cardiologist and he said no-one would touch it.
I would also be interested if any other stent recipients have had similar negative experiences.
Sorry to be long-winded but it is hard to describe my situation without going into detail.
Thanks for reading 🙂
I have had a desk job for 30 years. I had a recently started increasing my cardio exercise after suffering a leg fracture earlier in the year. I was approaching 50 and wanted to be in good shape. I met a friend at a local university and while briskly walking around the track I had some trouble regulating my breathing. I simply thought I was out of shape. That night I Googled “heart attack” and made myself aware of the symptoms. I few days later, I was awoken at 3:00 AM with jaw pain I got up and looked for aspirin. Only found Tylenol PM, took two pills and went back to bed. The jaw pain seemed to subside only to be followed by teeth chattering chills that went on for 30-40 minutes. As I laid in bed I decided to get back up and Google “Chills Heart Attack”, I told myself if there was a match we would go to the ER. Surprisingly, there was a match. We went to the ER and upon a series of test was informed that I was having a heart attack. I NEVER HAD CHEST PAIN, never had arm pain, never had the “traditional” heart attack symptoms! While I was in the ER I did experience some slight discomfort from my ear, down my throat. I had two stents installed into my heart as I had 100% blockage in my LAD and 99% blockage in my Ramus. Please listen to your body, if I had waited for chest pain, I’d probably be dead. I feel pretty good, but my piece of mind has been compromised. Having a “silent” heart attack is, perhaps, even scarier than having one with traditional symptoms as your body never really provided you with the reality that there was something seriously wrong.
My husband had a widow maker heart attack. One minute he was fine and the next he was gone. He was experiencing what he thought was reflux after a big meal. We went to hospital as he had some arm pain and I insisted that we get it checked out. By the time we got there, the pain was all gone. During the ECG he went into arrest. They tried to resuscitate him for half an hour. They did get a heart beat eventually but the cardiologist said that he couldn’t be saved and the damage was done. He had a 100% blockage in his LAD. However, he tried anyway given his young age. I think they did a balloon angioplasty. They said he had a 10% chance of surviving and he didn’t make it. This was in February. I’m still in shock and find it hard to accept. I was 5 months pregnant with our 4th child when this happened. The new baby is now 6 months old and my other children are 8, 6 and 4. It’s completely devastating and it’s hard to believe that this could happen to a seemingly healthy 38 year old and my kids have to grow up without their dad. It turns out that he had heart disease (70% in one of his arteries). Completely unbelievable. He didn’t smoke, drink, wasn’t overweight. An absolute tragedy.
Barton Powell says
I had a “widow maker” heart attack on 8-16-16. It has been over 4 months and I am still not getting better physically. I can barely walk and all of my joints hurt. Every time I talk to my cardiologist, all I hear is “Just do the best you can, it could be another 6 months before you start feeling better”. I see others that report that a week later they are back to work and feeling great. This gets very depressing!
You are still alive. Consider yourself lucky. You are getting another chance in life. There’s nothing depressing about that. Just make the most of it.
Sorry, but the excessive god comments need to stop. You’re on a website dedicated to science. Furthermore, it’s incredibly self righteous and self absorbed to state god for saved your life (because you are obviously so special), while that same god “let” another reader’s loved one die. How about just be thankful your heart attack was not so severe that it could not be treated by an incredibly well educated and talented physician and leave it at that. I know that I am.
How rude! What does it take from you for someone else to have a belief in a higher power? Not a thing! Nobody is forcing their beliefs on you. I’m not a particular religious man, nor do I attend church, but it is not my place to mock others that do. Live and let live. What got me through my surgery and fear of dying (my doctor told me it was a very good chance I wouldn’t make it), was cracking jokes the whole time and during my recovery. What if somebody said, “Shut up, it’s not helping.” Well, it probably didn’t make a difference in the outcome, but it helped ME cope with a scary situation. And the nurses laughed at (most of) my jokes. So, if somebody needs to cope by getting assurance from their invisible sky god, who are we to question the benefit they get from that? Nobody is writing a scientific paper here, so we don’t need you to be the science police. If you can’t be nice, then please be gone.
I am 47 and had a massive heart attack in the LAD on January 8, 2016. No prior symptoms. Very healthy lifestyle, although I had not been exercising as I should. I had just come home from visiting my daughter in Charleston (4 hours away) the day before and we had just gotten 7 inches of snow on the ground that day. My husband drives a semi to Atlanta, GA every night but this “happened” to be on a Saturday night/Sunday morning so he was home. The dizziness, vomiting, chest and back pressure, and sweating was happening for about 7 hours before the chest pains actually started, which was my indicator that something was terribly wrong, so we left at that point for the ER. My blockage was 100% and they inserted a stent through my wrist. In the process, they knicked an artery and then had to go through my leg to insert a balloon to stop the bleeding. I feel good now and regardless of what “Keyser” says…..I thank the Lord for his mercy and grace. YES, it was the doctor that did the procedure, and I look forward to actually getting to speak with him again to let him know how much I appreciate it, but it was the Lord that gave him and the rest of his team the knowledge and skills to perform the procedure. I know it is hard to understand why God lets some die and lets others survive, but it is not our place to ask God. So, thank you Doctor, nurses, and others that took care of me and thank you Lord for giving me a little more time. I have 2 kids and a new grandbaby that will be one year next month. I will follow all the doctor’s orders, change my diet, add exercise, take my meds, and wake up every day thanking God for another day. May God bless each of you!
Has anyone ever had one of those calcium scans?….While I don’t think they can tell if you have blockage, a high calcium score could mean that there is much higher probability of it….
A zero is the best score, and i found this chart:
No plaque is present. You have less than a 5% chance of having heart disease. Your risk of a heart attack is very low.
A small amount of plaque is present. You have less than a 10% chance of having heart disease. Your risk of a heart attack is low. However, you may want to quit smoking, eat better, and exercise more.
Plaque is present. You have mild heart disease. Your chance of having a heart attack is moderate. Talk with your doctor about quitting smoking, eating better, beginning an exercise program, and any other treatment you may need.
A moderate amount of plaque is present. You have heart disease, and plaque may be blocking an artery. Your chance of having a heart attack is moderate to high. Your health professional may want more tests and may start treatment.
A large amount of plaque is present. You have more than a 90% chance that plaque is blocking one of your arteries. Your chance of having a heart attack is high. Your health professional will want more tests and will start treatment
JAMAL REDA says
DR.Moustafa , great work and very informative , this explanation i personally looking to get from my cardiologist and i wasn’t able,maybe due to the fact it was in the clinic and things are different out there,never the less ,since i have heard the terms widowmaker at the surgery table , and my wife was standing beside me and so happened to be wearing black, already ,it was terrifying, thank god my catheterization went well and now i am able to run a whole entire 7 miles ,as opposed to not been able to run 2 street block priore to the catheterization , i do encourage anyone with chest pain to check them self first and if they need the catheterization,please go ahead and do it , it does save your life, once again great work ,DR MOUSTAFA
My condolences to all of you that have lost someone in their lives. At the age of 57 I had a heart attack with 100% blockage. It took about an hour maybe a little more by the time we arrived at the hospital by ambulance. I now have a large amount of heart muscle damage. My heart has reshaped itself due to the scar tissue in my heart. I now wonder how many years I have to live. I worked out ran and watched my diet. But I was told it could be hereditary too. I now hope that they can find a solution to help extend my life. Best of luck to all of you.
Well I had my incident on July7th of 2016, I am an active runner and swimmer, eat well and do all I can to take care of myself- I was only 47 years old when this happened and had a lot of stress before this happened, my wife had just finished a yearlong fight with breast cancer. She is doing really well.
I did not have any symptoms other than heart burn, I thought it was from all the spicy food I had been eating that week, I did have a hard time working out that week, just could not seem to do it, something just did not feel right. On the night of the incident, I woke up with a real burning in my chest. I woke my wife who had just had surgery so was a little out it, I told her I need to go to the hospital, she said I should just take a nap and deal with it in the morning. Something told me I had to go. I got up and chewed on an aspirin (not sure why). I drove myself to the hospital which is about a mile from my home. (one of the dumbest but best things I have ever done in my life) I was lucky to find a parking place right in front of the ER. I walked up to the counter, said I think I am having a bad case of heart burn or a heart… Then collapsed on the floor, pulseless and breathless. 4 minutes of CPR and two different rounds of being shocked they got me back, about a minute later I went pulseless again and another 2 minutes of CPR and another round of being shocked. They were able to get me back a 2nd time. I was sent to the cath lab where they found the cause, a 100% blockage of the LAD. They placed two stents. They told my wife they were unsure how I would be because of the time I was pulseless.
I woke up a day later, in the ICU on a vent and on a heart pump. I was taken off the vent about a hour after I woke up. I could remember nothing but walking into the ER, I spent a week in the ICU and a couple of days on the floor.
A few months ago I had my echo and was told that my heart had recovered with no damage. I was told by the doctors that it was a true miracle I was alive and doing so well. Today I doing amazing, running and swimming again like never before.
Well that’s my story.
Judy Brown says
After being told my chest pain was Acid Reflex, which the interventional cardiologist read from the medical cardiologist report, I suggested he treat me as if Frances was spelled Francis(the male version of the name). He said, ” we’ll go in and see.” The resulting stent
report noted I had “Sever LAD.” Now we know why it is called the WIDOW
MAKER. Women are not treated with consistent regard as heart patients. We are being told “we have different symptoms”. We have been saying that for generations. Know
we are being heard. Get a copy of your records. Read them carefully. And act in your own best interest. There are no GODS in medicine.
Is there any way to get a clear EKG AND x-ray and still have blockage, or would these show the blockage for sure?