My father had a heart attack yesterday afternoon. It looks like he's going to be ok though.
He was at home with my mom and began to feel some serious indigestion pains. The pain quickly got worse and was accompanied by shortness of breath. At that point my mother wisely called 911.
The U.S. medical establishment seems to be optimized for this very situation.
Within minutes an ambulance had arrived and an EMT began gathering information. Shortly thereafter they delivered my father to a nearby hospital where an angiogram was performed, confirming my father had had a heart attack, with one artery completely blocked and another 80% blocked. The doctors immediately did an angioplasty, which is where they expand balloons in the blocked arteries (my layman's understanding) to reestablish blood flow. As part of the procedure, they also inserted stents, small metal tubes, into the arteries, to keep them from collapsing closed again. The stents are permanent.
The doctor estimated that it was 83 minutes from the time my father had a heart attack to the time they fixed his arteries. Amazing. I've waited longer than that to get a pizza delivered.
I visited my dad in the hospital today. He was very tired, and looked like hell, but was in a pretty good mood, all things considered.
He told me how when my mother called 911, he made sure to grab his wallet. Then, when the EMT asked him if he was on any medication or allergic to any medications, my father was able to pull out the typed document that he keeps in his wallet for exactly this situation.
My father is also very rigorous about keeping his financial records. Several times a year, he pulls me aside to explain to me how to access his financial spreadsheets on his computer should he become incapacitated, or dead. Apparently, the day before his heart attack, he had updated his spreadsheets with his latest information. He said that while he was in the ambulance, wondering if he was going to die or not, he couldn't help but be a little smug that his records were in order. He knew he could die with a clear conscience.
The U.S. medical establishment may be good at handling heart attacks, but you'd be hard-pressed to find someone better prepared for having them than my father.