News from South Shore Health System

Heart Attack Rapid Response Saved this South Shore Resident’s Life

Posted by South Shore Health System on Feb 23, 2017 9:59:36 AM

Donald Mathison.pngAccording to the American Heart Association, approximately every 42 seconds someone in the United States has a heart attack. Abington resident, Donald Mathison became part of that startling statistic when he experienced a massive heart attack at 57 years old. Though he had a family history of heart disease—his father even dying from a massive heart attack at a young age—it still came as a complete shock to him and his family, because he led a very active, healthy lifestyle.

Every Second Counts

National guidelines give doctors a 90-minute window from when a patient arrives at the hospital to the time a balloon is inserted into the blocked artery during angioplasty and blood flow is restored. Door-to-balloon time, as it is called, is the speed in which a hospital can open the blocked artery of a patient in the midst of a heart attack.

“During a heart attack, lost time means lost heart muscle. Every minute becomes crucial to restoring blood flow to the blocked artery,” said David Litvak, MD, cardiologist. “Like many patients suffering a heart attack, Donald’s symptoms started slowly, which often make it easy to ignore and delay treatment.” 

While the day started off like any other workday, it was the subtle but constant uneasy feeling that made Donald apprehensive.

“I just felt off, even questioning whether or not I was having an anxiety attack,” Donald recalled. “But it was the constant nausea and sweating that made me unable to go on with my day.”

Fortunately Donald did act quick and sought treatment at South Shore Hospital, where Dr. Litvak performed balloon angioplasty and stenting, opening the blocked coronary artery.

South Shore Hospital is proud to be the only participating hospital to achieve recognition by the American Heart Association (AHA) for following the latest research-based standards for severe heart attacks—receiving a Mission: Lifeline® Silver Quality Achievement Award. Mission: Lifeline was developed by the AHA to transform heart attack patient outcomes by connecting healthcare providers, prehospital providers and community stakeholders in a proactive system of care that saves and improves lives—from symptom onset through cardiac rehabilitation.

“South Shore Hospital is dedicated to improving the quality of care for our patients who suffer a heart attack, and the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program is helping us accomplish that goal through nationally respected clinical guidelines,” said Dr. Litvak. “We are pleased to be recognized for our dedication to cardiac care.”

Through teamwork, speed and precision, Donald’s life was saved that day. As an active traveler, father to five girls and happily married to his best friend and longtime wife, Sharon, Donald plans to do anything necessary to maintain his heart health and continue living a full life.

Learn more about how a year after having the heart attack, Donald became the first patient at South Shore Hospital to receive a subcutaneous implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (S-ICD)—which could significantly increase his chances of surviving a second heart attack.   

Visit to register for an upcoming FREE community program South Shore Health System is offering during Heart Month aimed at education to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease while empowering you to make heart-healthy choices.

Topics: As One, Heart Health

Sharing As One

Welcome to Sharing As One, South Shore Health System’s blog. Our goal is to share regular doses of health news, expert insights to healthy living, wellness tips, and inspiring stories from ordinary people who have overcome extraordinary health challenges. 


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