In the United States, February marks the time to celebrate American Heart Month , ultimately to raise awareness about heart disease. This federally designated event is a great way to remind families and friends to get involved in their own healthcare, and be proactive when it comes to heart health. Coincidentally, February 19th through the 26th marks National Hockey Week across America . What better way to celebrate these two events, than to highlight some key players on the ice and their incredible experiences. As part of a blog series, we will be taking a look at players and coaches who have sustained and survived a potentially life threatening cardiac event, all to help raise awareness of hearth health in hockey. To begin our four-part blog series, we will be discussing Stu McLean’s story.
Stu McLean is a 33-year-old avid hockey player and assistant hockey coach for Davenport University located in West Michigan. McLean underwent heart surgery January 27, 2017 after he suffered a heart attack.
"I was out for a run when I felt a burning sensation that I thought was just a lower respiratory infection," said McLean, who leads an active life. "After being hospitalized, and tested, which ledto a catheterization, the interventional cardiology team caught a blood clot and were able to use the Absorb stent.”
McLean had a 95 percent blockage in an artery. Given his condition and age, he was the perfect candidate for a revolutionary treatment called the Absorb stent.
“I'm so grateful and blessed the team did what they did. This stent will do its job by keeping my arteries open, and then will go away in a few years after it's no longer needed."Dr. Kristopher Selke, interventional cardiologist and surgeon at Mercy Health located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, implanted the first FDA-approved dissolving heart stent in West Michigan. This procedure is a major advance in the treatment of coronary artery disease, which affects 15 million people in the United States and remains a leading cause of death despite technological and therapeutic advances.
In the past, stents have been made from a variety of metallic materials that made them permanent implants. The Absorb stent, however, is made out of natural materials and compounds that slowly break down and are absorbed by your body over time.
Fortunately, just about one month after his heart attack, McLean is on the mend with a new outlook on life.
“I have a 7-year-old beautiful daughter. I want to be around for a long, long time,” he said.If you, a teammate or coach begin to experience any signs of a heart attack, be sure to seek outmedical attention as quickly as possible. Even if you think you’re in good shape, it’s important toget regular screenings and physicals to ensure your heart is healthy enough for high levels of physical activity such as hockey.