Hampton man shares how he survived a ‘widowmaker’

Health

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Kevin Spence has a lot to think about while walking the treadmill. He nearly widowed his wife of 33 years just after Christmas.

“I had a 100-percent blockage of the LAD — left anterior descending artery which is nicknamed the ‘widowmaker,'” he said.

It can be hard to believe, considering Spence’s lifestyle.

“My weight was OK, I exercised all the time, my blood pressure was good and my diet was good. I gave up salt a long time ago,” he told WAVY.com.

But the proof was right on the screen, which Doctor Amol Raizada showed WAVY.com in the Cardiac Lab at Sentara Careplex Hospital.

Spence’s heart was a ticking time bomb.

“Basically, time is equal to heart muscle in these cases. The sooner you get to the hospital, the more heart you can save because once you’ve had damage there’s no coming back,” Raizada said.

Luckily, Spence told us, he did act fast when he felt pain in his chest.

“Took a few Tums and a couple aspirins, then after 15 minutes it was still there and it was worse, so I went to my wife and said ‘Lets go to the hospital, I may be having a heart attack,'” he said.

Doctors threaded a wire into his artery and placed a stent inside to open it up. Spence felt immediate relief.

“Health is now paramount in my life so I can be around for my family,” he said.

Kevin does have a family history of heart disease and had high cholesterol — two risk factors.

Doctor’s say you can’t change your genes, but you can minimize your risk by not smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising and controlling blood sugars if you’re diabetic.

With every step Spence is rebuilding his heart muscle — and learning about new diets and medications — so he and Suzy can one day celebrate their golden anniversary.

“My father is still alive, he’s 92, so I’m looking forward to the next 30-plus years,” he said.

You can read more about the signs and symptoms of heart attack here.


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