Pedro Anguiano was hoping to run an errand or pick up something to eat after his dentist appointment last October. Instead, he took a detour to the Lutheran Medical Center Emergency Room, via ambulance. Still, he considers himself lucky that things worked out the way they did that day.
Here’s where the luck came into play. As Pedro was driving down Wadsworth Boulevard near the Arvada Center, a couple following behind him realized something was wrong. Although he doesn’t remember anything from that day, he somehow managed to pull his car into a parking lot before he lost consciousness. Pedro, at the age of 66, was suffering a massive heart attack.
“It’s like everything was orchestrated,” Pedro says today. “I’m thankful that I didn’t hurt anyone and that someone took it upon themselves to stop and help.”
The man and his wife, who were visiting from out of town, had already called 911. Someone else arrived with a crowbar and broke the window to get Pedro out of the car so the wife could start CPR—something the couple had just learned how to do a couple of weeks earlier.
Once the police and paramedics arrived, Pedro was on his way to the hospital, where he had surgery to clear three of his heart’s arteries and, eventually, implant a pacemaker. He spent nearly three weeks in the Intensive Care Unit.
“All I remember is waking up two days later and seeing my daughter there from Tucson, along with my whole family,” Pedro says.
While most of us expect certain symptoms to signal a heart attack—chest pain or numbness in the arm for instance—Pedro had none of these. Since leaving the hospital, he is following up with his doctor, doing cardiac rehabilitation, exercising at home and making sure he stays healthy and keeps his diabetes under control.
Pedro, who regularly trains on CPR and how to use an AED at work, now has an even greater understanding of the need to be prepared to help someone who experiences a life-threatening illness. It’s more likely that a passerby will be first on the scene in the moment than an emergency responder. The ones who were that day just may have saved his life.