Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

August 29, 2012

Brown outruns ‘Widow Maker’


CROSSVILLE — Boyd Brown, 68-year-old Tansi resident, is convinced that joining the Cumberland Medical Center Wellness Complex at Crossville a few years ago has saved his life.

Brown recently survived a life-threatening heart attack and returned home in four days.

“The doctors told me it might have been a different story, if I wasn’t in such good physical condition,” Brown said.

Brown and his first cousin Carolyn Emery were on a regular outdoor run the morning of Saturday, July 14, when Brown began to feel discomfort in his chest.

He did not know it, but he was experiencing a specific artery blockage that doctors call “the widow maker.”  It is generally so serious, it can cause death, unless a patient gets medical attention within 90 minutes.

When Brown told his cousin about his chest discomfort, she helped him into her car for a fast trip to the Tansi firehouse, where an Emergency Medical Team was on duty.

En route, she stopped at her house, got three baby aspirin, gave them to him, and drove on to meet waiting EMTs.

Brown was evaluated immediately with an electrocardiograph (EKG). After confirming a heart attack, he was taken directly to the Heart Catherization Laboratory at Cookeville Regional Medical Center, where he was met by members of the Tennessee Heart Group. They found one blocked artery and proceeded with surgery to correct it.

He arrived at the hospital in 70 minutes of the first signs of discomfort, with 20 minutes to spare.

Following the corrective heart procedure, Brown spent 24 hours in the Intensive Care Unit. 

Sunday morning, he moved to a regular hospital room. Tuesday morning, July 17, he was discharged by Dr. Stacy David Brewington, his cardiologist.

“I really think it was exercise that saved me,” he said.

Brown has been a runner off and on most of his life. After moving to the Crossville area in 2007, he began to run with a partner, and also joined in early morning sessions with friends from the Wellness Complex at Crossville. He began high-intensity classes there and over time increased his activity with personal training.

In 2010 he ran a half-marathon in Chattanooga at Lookout Mountain. In 2011 he tried a triathlon, and this year ran in the Music City half-marathon in Nashville.

Following his return home from the surgery, Brown was enrolled in the Cardiac Rehabilitation program at Cumberland Medical Center. He was scheduled for 12 sessions, but only went five times, because he was capable of completing all the requirements.

“All the men in past generations of my family died of heart attacks. I realize I must have been predisposed to heart problems, but I am now positive that exercise has played a huge role in helping me through this. I’m now an advocate of healthy living. I feel the Good Lord was lining things up for me,” Brown said.

His parents Roy and Wilma Brown, who will be 90 and 86 years old this year, joined the Wellness Complex in 1998. They exercise at 5 a.m. three days a week.

Brown’s son, Eric, a U. S. Border Patrol Agent in Texas, gave his father a copy of “The Men’s Health Diet,” by Stephen Perrine, for Father’s Day.

“I like the exercise, but I guess I’m getting into the food part of this healthy living now.”

Brown’s sister, Linda Hassler, is a certified dietician in charge of the Cumberland Medical Center Diabetes Self-Management program.

“My sister is all about me learning to eat right, so besides being 100 percent into exercising, I’m now watching my diet. She gives me food planners.”

Brown has already lost five pounds.