When Tony and Tammy Ervin watched a segment on WBKO about heart attacks, they had no idea they would soon be living through the experience themselves. The segment, produced in partnership
between WBKO and The Medical Center, was a re-enactment of a heart attack and what happens when taken to The Medical Center. "I asked my wife, Tammy, if we had aspirin in the house," Tony
recalls," because of how they said it could help save your life during a heart attack." Within days of asking that question, Tony began to have chest pains.
"It started Sunday night," Tony said, "like someone sat on my chest. I tried to be the tough guy and blow it off, but after it happened again, I knew I couldn't ignore it." Tony realized
his symptoms were like the ones re-enacted in the WBKO segment. "What I'd seen on TV made me pay more attention to what was going on. I called my wife at work and said come home; we're
going to have to do something."
"I knew it was a heart attack," said Tammy. "We both lost our fathers at young ages to heart attacks. That we are young makes no difference." Tony is 49 and Tammy is 45, and both are
physically fit and active—neither of them expected to have heart disease in their 40s.
"The whole time it was happening," Tony said, "I thought about my dad, how he was just 53 when he died. It scared me to think it was happening to me."
Once at The Medical Center, Tony says all he had to do was say "chest pain" and the staff sprang into action. Within minutes, he was in a wheelchair and taken back to a treatment room. He
was given baby aspirin, put on oxygen, had blood drawn, and an EKG was taken. He was, indeed, having a heart attack, caused by blockages in the small arteries around his heart.
Tony and Tammy were very impressed with The Medical Center's Emergency Department nurses. "They were calm and matter-of-fact," Tony said. "That helped keep me calm. They told me everything
they were doing and why."
In a twist of fate, Tammy experienced a heart attack just five weeks later, during their son's wedding. Both Tony and Tammy have recovered well and are enjoying life, although Tony—a
self-employed contractor—has been told by his doctor he needs to change his work. "It's scary, both of us having a heart attack, and not knowing how I'm going to make a living," Tony
said, "but it sure beats the alternative! We're thankful to be alive."
Before their heart attacks, neither Tony nor Tammy knew they both had high blood pressure. "You just need to be aware," Tony says. "And don't play the tough guy. Don't think it'll just
go away. It may not."
Since his heart attack, Tony has given up smoking. "Food tastes better now, and I don't wake up coughing in the morning. I feel awesome."