Research saved life of heart attack victim

Published 3:00 am Saturday, January 17, 2015

Danny Graham’s dad, Jimmy Graham, died of a heart attack in 1983. He was 68 years old.

Graham is sure he would have followed in his dad’s footsteps had not been for the research into the treatment and prevention of heart disease done by the American Heart Association, the skill of the physicians and prayer.

In August 2013, Graham was sitting at his desk at the State Farm office in Brundidge when his arms began to ache and hurt.

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“The pain was all in my arms. I didn’t have any pain in my chest so I didn’t think it was my heart,” Graham said. “I’d had a similar pain a while back but it went away. This pain didn’t.”

As a pre-caution, Graham took an aspirin and then drove himself to his family physician in Troy.

“They did an EKG, and it didn’t show anything, but they wouldn’t let me go home. I was sent over to the emergency room,” Graham said. “Over there, they did a cardiac enzyme study and found that something was going on.”

Graham was released and referred to a cardiologist. The tests revealed three blockages, one at 95 percent and the other two at 85 percent.

“The year before, I’d had a heart cauterization as the result of a stress test and it showed a little something, but no major blockages,” Graham said. “This time, I had blockages.”

Graham was scheduled for open-heart surgery at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham.

“I spent the night with my sister in Birmingham and went in for surgery the next day,” he said. “I wasn’t afraid. I thought if it was my time, then it was my time and I was ready to go.”

Graham’s faith was strong and he said a sense of peace came over him and he slept through the night.

“I made it through the surgery fine and received excellent care at St. Vincent’s, just as I had at Troy Regional Medical Center,” he said. “The surgery was on Wednesday and, at noon on Sunday, I walked in my house. A week later, I went to the office and did payroll and, by the fifth week, I was back at work six to seven hours a day.”

Graham said he never experienced the feelings of depression that some patients do following open-heart surgery.

“I did what the doctors said to do and I walked on the treadmill and ate right, and I got along really good,” he said. “I realized that I had to take better care of myself because heart disease is heredity, and it’s on both sides of my family, more on my daddy’s side.”

Graham’s dad died 33 years ago. Today, he probably would have lived, as his son did.

“I know that I’m alive today because of research and medicine,” Graham said.

He encourages the people of Pike County to participate in the Pike County Chapter of the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk on Feb. 10 at the Troy Recreation Center.

“The work the American Heart Association does is making a difference,” he said. “Lives are being saved and made better every day because of the research done by the AHA.”