DES MOINES – On the morning of August 4th, Waukee school teacher and Tennis Coach Eric Wetzel went for a run. When he got home he suffered a heart attack.
Luckily his wife Megan, also a Waukee school teacher, was there to call the paramedics and start CPR immediately. If not for her jumping into action, Eric would have passed away.
“Every variable that happens in a situation like this everything unfolded exactly like it needed to for the best possible outcome,” Megan Wetzel said.
The paramedics got there within five minutes of the call and the emergency room staff were ready to treat Eric as soon as he arrived. At the hospital, Eric was diagnosed with an 80% blockage of his left artery to his heart, what’s known as a ‘Widowmaker’ heart attack.
Dr. Abdulrahman Abdulbaki is an Interventional Cardiologist at Unity Point Iowa Methodist and was the doctor that operated on Wetzel. Dr. Abdulbaki credits Megan’s quick response as well as the efforts of paramedics and hospital staff for why Eric is still alive.
“We have to recognize the importance of what his wife did in terms of recognizing it and acting quickly on it and performing CPR and maintaining that perfusion to the brain,” Dr. Abdulbaki said.
Megan wasn’t trained in CPR and had only watched YouTube videos on how to perform it. However, any chest compressions are useful when someone is having a heart attack, even if the person administering them is not certified in CPR.
“I’d really like to see a lot more people officially certified in CPR but really just simply an awareness that it needs to be started immediately and every little bit helps is a good first step,” said Dr. Nick Kluesner, an emergency physician at Unity Point Iowa Methodist.
Dr. Kluesner sees many heart attack victims and the ones who have the best outcomes are those who had CPR administered immediately, even if it wasn’t by a professional.
“If you had to pick two takeaway points it’s early CPR, it doesn’t really matter how good it is just do it, and early defibrillation,” Dr. Kluesner said.
In the wake of the heart attack, the Wetzels received an outpouring of support. “We’ve been in this community, we’re both teachers in this community, we love being a part of this community, and this community has supported us in ways so far beyond what I ever expected,” Megan Wetzel said, “It’s been pretty amazing, to say the least.”
Eric is recovering well from the heart attack and attending cardiac therapy sessions. He was recently cleared to take the family dog on a walk around the neighborhood. He hopes to get back to teaching soon.