Columbus, OH,
15:00 PM

Strange Symptoms: Heart attack disguised as stomach bug

The flu was starting to take its toll on Dick Raffensberger in April 2014. “Normally if I get sick like that, it only lasts 12 hours. This time, I was still vomiting after a day and a half, but I still thought it was just a stomach bug.”

Since he works at OhioHealth Dublin Methodist Hospital in the Facilities department, he decided to visit their Emergency Department where he had an EKG performed, “just as a precaution.” Just six weeks before, he had normal results from an EKG performed during his physical. But, this time, Lesley Perez, MD, saw something she didn’t like, and sent him for more specialized care at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital. Arash Arshi, MD, performed a catheterization there and discovered his main right artery was 100 percent blocked with a blood clot. Dick received a stent and learned he had suffered a heart attack.

Dick says he never once felt any pains in his chest and had been in good shape. He even ran a half-marathon six months before his heart attack. He has since completed cardiac rehab and is able to enjoy one of his favorite past times, backpacking. With his doctor’s permission, he hiked 40 miles of the Appalachian Trail six weeks after his heart attack. He continues to exercise and watches what he eats.

His advice for others is “not to wait until you’re older to get fit. It was harder to do it in my 40s than if I had done it decades earlier.” Dick has worked for OhioHealth for 25 years, and this last Christmas, played the part of Santa at Dublin Methodist’s celebration. His white beard was perfect for the role. But, he says he was actually happy with one complaint he received, “You’re too skinny to be Santa.