After cutting short an early morning bike ride, ABC News documentary producer Michael Bicks lay in the grass coughing and feeling nauseated and short of breath. He wondered what was happening. Was it dehydration? Job stress? The Chinese food from last night?
Not long before, Michael had gotten a clean bill of health after passing a cardiac stress test and learning he had good cholesterol numbers. He was also a fitness nut. He rode 50 to 80 miles every Saturday with some guys in their 50s he nicknamed the Cheat Death group. But by the third hill, Michael couldn’t continue. “I got about 35 miles in and felt worse and worse.”
Scared and angry, he felt like his body was giving out on him. He waited for his wife, Ellie, to pick him up.
At home, he popped an antacid and tried to rest. But he couldn’t sleep. He went to the computer and typed: “How do you know if you’re having a heart attack?” into the Google search engine.
The American Heart Association’s website came up first. The heart attack warning signs that popped up matched several symptoms he was feeling. He decided to go to the hospital.
“You walk into the ER and you think you’re an idiot,” Michael said. During an EKG, he expected to hear, “Pal, you have indigestion.” Instead he heard, “You’re having a heart attack.” After a blur of activities that included going by ambulance to a larger hospital, doctors inserted a stent to open a blocked artery.
He took the summer off to relax, recover and remember the important things in life. “It’s not the big stuff. It’s five minutes in the morning when my 17-year-old will actually talk to me,” said Michael, who has two teen-age daughters. “It’s after 20 years that I still enjoy marriage. It makes you very conscious of not wasting time.”
He said he’s profoundly glad he clicked to the American Heart Association’s website, which he knew contained authoritative information. “The Web site helped save my life. There are some people like me for whom a heart attack is just bad luck, and that’s why it’s important to know the signs and symptoms.”