Michael Little is a lucky man. He's dodged death three times before turning 50!
In his 30's he survived a brain aneurysm. In his 40's, bad luck struck once more – a ruptured appendix. "It was bad... I spent a long time in Chambersburg Hospital," Michael said.
"That was the first time they saved my life."
In 2010, the stress of work, his dad's death, his mother's Alzheimer's, and an unhealthy lifestyle all caught up with him. Michael had a heart attack that could have killed him.
"In addition to caring for my parents, I was a total workaholic," Michael admitted. "That week I had 3,000 people to cater for and I hadn't slept in 3 days. I didn't eat well then, I was overweight, I smoked... I didn't take care of myself at all."
Dr. Arshad Safi, cardiologist for Summit Interventional Cardiology, got the call about Michael around 6:00 am. "Heart attacks have a higher likelihood of occurring during the early morning hours," explained Dr. Safi. "We activated our team right away and the lab was ready for Michael in less than 20 minutes."
At Chambersburg Hospital's Cardiac Cath Lab he quickly determined that Michael had major blockages in his three major vessels (one was 100%) and five blocked arteries.
Dr. Safi remembers the case well. "Michael's heart rate was so low that we first had to insert a temporary pace maker. We then placed 3 stents to restore blood flow to the heart muscle that was most injured," Dr. Safi recalls. "Once we got the blood flow going, I felt that Michael has a good chance to survive his heart attack."
"I remember some of it," Michael recalls. "I could hear Dr. Safi yelling 'stay with me, Michael' and I could hear machines." The next thing he remembers is waking up in the Intensive Care Unit feeling weighted down and hurting from the compressions that had been done on his chest.
"Why did I survive?" Michael pondered. "I'm not done here. I must have a purpose to fulfill."
Michael has made some important changes to his lifestyle since his near-fatal heart attack. He's lost weight, eats healthier, doesn't smoke, and he tries to get regular exercise. He's also working on how to say "no".
His first heart attack put Michael a higher risk for another. Because of this and other factors he's been invited to join a Cardiovascular Inflammation Reduction Trial (CIRT) for a drug called Methotrexate. It's believed this cancer drug can decrease inflammation that contributes to heart disease.
Dr. Safi is the principal investigator at Chambersburg Hospital and will oversee 16 people involved in the clinical trial over the next 5 years. "People may think that Chambersburg is a small, community hospital. However, we participate in the latest research trials to bring the newest treatment options to our patients right here, close to home, said Dr. Safi.
"Michael's commitment to participate in this trial won't benefit him alone, but will also benefit future heart patients at Chambersburg Hospital." - Dr. Arshad Safi, Cardiologist
It's a commitment Michael Little is happy to make. "If I can help others by doing this clinical trial, that's great," said Michael.
"I'm thankful for what Dr. Safi and his team did for me and I want to give back. I just can't say enough about this hospital and the cardiology department here. They saved my life."