Lakeland Health Care

Patient Stories

Celebrating Survivors

Age Diagnosed
Feature Story
After losing her 56-year-old mother to a heart attack, Elaine Bokhart of Mishawaka was all too aware that she could also be at risk for the same fate.

“I spent the next 18 years always a little afraid of my mother’s history and a little worried that I would have a heart attack just as she had,” Elaine, 54, explained.

But when she experienced odd sensations in her left arm and a tingling sensation at the top of her head one morning while she drove to work last December, she didn’t think much of it at all. She and her husband of just nine weeks, Rick, were halfway to their jobs at Medic 1 Ambulance in Benton Harbor where she works as an administrative assistant and he works as a mechanic.

Once at work, Elaine sat down in the lounge, which was unusual for her. She told one of the supervisors that she was fine, but “just felt a little funny.” Trying to ease her husband’s worry, she had her blood pressure checked (it was slightly elevated) and eventually called her doctor’s office.

“I really wouldn’t have gone to the doctor if my husband hadn’t been hovering around me,” Elaine said. “We’re newlyweds – he didn’t want something to happen to me!”

Leanne Mancini, DO, of Family Physicians of St. Joseph, examined her and performed an electrocardiogram (EKG) on Elaine. Knowing that heart issues ran in her family, Elaine had already had a baseline electrocardiogram at age 50 through Dr. Mancini.

“She didn’t really see anything that concerned her on the EKG, but just to be safe because of the history of my mother, she wanted me to go to the Emergency Department and have blood work done to check my cardiac enzymes,” Elaine said. When heart muscle is damaged, as with a heart attack, levels of certain enzymes and proteins rise in the bloodstream.

Once at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, St. Joseph, tests confirmed that Elaine was indeed having a heart attack. Dilip Arora, MD, Interventional Cardiologist, Great Lakes Heart and Vascular Institute, admitted her to the hospital and began treating her with nitroglycerin and a blood thinning medication. He performed an angiogram on her the next morning.

“Lucky for me I had no major blockage and I could be treated with medication alone,” said Elaine.

Elaine’s advice to anyone – and especially to women who often put their own health needs last – is to “Know yourself, know your body, and know if something just isn’t right for you.”

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