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Laurel County man discovers serious heart problem during cold snap

john adams.JPEG
Posted at 6:00 PM, Feb 17, 2022

LONDON, Ky. (LEX 18) — From his home in London, John Adams says he’s on the long road to recovery after open-heart surgery January 10.

“By the grace of God, I’m still here to be able to tell this story,” he told LEX 18. “I should have been dead.”

The 50-year-old construction worker says the only reason he realized something was off was because of the cold weather.

“I’ve always been the type of person, if there's a foot of snow on the ground I can put on a pair of tennis shoes and a pair of shorts and go out to the mailbox, and it would not bother me,” he said. But lately, the cold would “take my breath so bad, I’d have to get back in my truck.”

Adams became so concerned that he went to his doctor in London. He learned he needed treatment in Lexington and quickly ended up at CHI Saint Joseph Health for open-heart surgery.

Cardiac Thoracic Surgeon George Dimeling says Adams is fairly typical for a heart patient. In fact, he brushed aside symptoms of a heart attack while he was at work about five months ago.

“Really strong-willed, hardworking people who are at home doing what they've been doing for 50 years,” Dr. Dimeling said. “They don't realize they've been slowing down or having symptoms of heart disease.”

But eventually, Adams couldn’t ignore his body’s signs, including shortness of breath and chest pain. By the time he got to Saint Joseph’s, one of his arteries was completely blocked. Dr. Dimeling says his patient did the right thing at just the right time, and the weather played a role.

“I think of it as him having a test that confirmed he needed to come in and seek medical attention,” he said.

According to Dr. Dimeling, everyone needs to listen to their body. If something feels off, talk to your doctor. And if you’re experiencing any signs of a heart attack, go to the emergency room immediately.

“You only have one heart,” he said. Because Adams paid attention, his doctors say he’ll be okay.

Now, the dad and grandfather has a heart full of love, and he’s grateful he doesn’t have to think about everything he’d miss if he were gone.

“All the grandkids, the time that you don’t get to spend with people,” he said. “The little things, really.”

February is also American Heart Month.