Widowmaker heart attack survivor shares story
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. - A survivor of a Widowmaker heart attack is sharing his story in the hopes of preventing the same thing from happening to others.
Greg Banks was working out at Beacon Health off of Capitol Ave on June 5, 2017.
He says he typically does a lot of high intensity interval training and a lot of jump rope.
“I think it was like a 50 minute workout, and I was pretty spent after it,” he said.
He says he started walking back and forth to try to walk it off.
“I felt a little chest pain, but not much. I just thought I was working out hard,” said Greg.
He says he took a few steps over to a chair by the main desk and sat down.
“That’s when I thought to myself, Greg you never sit down after a workout, and I thought okay what do I do now?” he said.
He says he told the man who works behind the desk that he wasn’t feeling good, so he brought him to the backroom to take his blood pressure—which was 70/40.
“So he goes, do you want me to call an ambulance, and I go yeah let’s do it, so he calls. Then, one of the guys comes in with a bottle of Gatorade, and he’s like here you go, so I chug that down, and within a minute, I’m feeling good.”
He says Jason asked him if he wanted to call off the ambulance.
“I go yeah. Oh—why did I do that?”
“I get up, I’m walking out the door. He’s double, triple checking me. He goes Greg, you all right, you all right? I go yeah I’m fine I’m fine. I take two steps and down! Out like a light,” he said.
He hit the ground, cracking his forehead and busting open his lip.
“I think it took three hits from the AED to get me to come back,” said Greg.
Greg had a LAD heart attack, which stands for left arterial descending artery.
“Also known as the widowmaker. They don’t like to call it the widowmaker, but it almost made my wife a widow, so I’m going to call it a widow maker,” said Greg.
Greg has a long history of heart disease.
His grandfather died of a heart attack when he was 63, when he was three months old.
Then, his father died of a heart attack at 55 on the racquet ball court, when Greg was 19.
“Just thinking about leaving my wife behind. She could have lost her husband and her father two months apart, and just the thought of me leaving her behind would have been just brutal, just brutal,” said Greg.
“I was 51 and I survived. I’m the first one that survived it out of my family, and it’s I think all due to the technology we have today,” said Greg.
He says the most important thing is to call 911 so you get the EMTs on the way.
Then, try CPR and AEDs—as quickly as possible.
“You really get a different outlook on life.”
He says picking up his jump ropes again was very emotional for him.
“That’s what caused it you know? Not really, actually , it’s almost what saved my life, too, because my cardio was I think that’s what saved me, because my cardiac condition was really good when I had my heart attack,” said Greg.
After getting through that first time, he said nothing was going to stop him.
“I feel fantastic. I feel so lucky. Like I was telling you before, I feel like I’ve won the lottery. If I win the lottery in life, that was my lottery,” said Greg.
“It’s kind of like it took my grandfather and my father, but it didn’t get me,” he said. “It makes you stronger, just to know, I beat you. I beat it. I beat it.”
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men, with one in three suffering from some form of cardiovascular disease.
80% of cases are preventable, while 20% are hereditary, like Greg’s.
For more information about heart disease, visit the American Heart Association's website.