Heart Attack Puts Life Into Perspective for Jim Cline

After a Quick Response to a Heart Attack, Jim Cline Is Living Life to the Fullest

Jim Cline had just achieved a personal best on the strider machine at the SamFit gym in Newport, and the next thing he knew, he was waking up in the Emergency Department. After being told he’d had a heart attack, he asked to call his wife. The doctor dialed the phone and handed it to Jim.

“Hi, honey. I’m in the Emergency Room in Newport,” Jim said when Amy Cline answered.

“What did you break?” she asked.

“I think I broke my heart,” Jim said.

It was a rainy, chilly Monday morning in December. Deborah Olff, RN, a home health and hospice nurse at Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital, was working out at the SamFit gym for the first time in two years when she saw Jim Cline collapse. Her basic training kicked in and she rushed to his side to check his pulse. There was none. She began chest compressions while another person dialed 9-1-1. Jennifer Miller, the hospital’s Physical Rehabilitation Department manager, also happened to be working out that morning. She took over chest compressions while Olff ran to get the Automatic External Defibrillator (AED). 

Detecting no heartbeat, the AED shocked Jim’s heart twice to try and restart his heart. By the time paramedics arrived, eight minutes later, Jim again had a pulse. Though it was Olff’s first time doing CPR, her quick action may have saved Jim’s life, and kept his heart from being damaged. Later, Cardiologist Sridhar Vijayasekaran, MD, told Jim that because CPR was started so quickly — within 10 to 15 seconds, and the AED was applied so quickly — within about 45 seconds — there was no detectable damage to his heart from the heart attack. 

The doctor told Amy her husband would be transferred to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. The Clines live in Siletz, so Amy left her house and waited to meet the ambulance at the highway junction. 

“I followed him with my flashers on all the way over, including going through stop lights,” she said. “The ambulance stopped, and they told me I could not go through stop signs or red lights. I said, ‘They’ll have to catch me.’”  

At Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center three stents were placed in Jim’s coronary arteries, and he was discharged in two days. He’d not had heart issues in the past, and the heart attack surprised him. 

“I was dumbfounded when I had the heart attack, because I thought I was doing the right things,” he said. “Because I had been working out regularly for years, my heart was strong. I think that helped my recovery a whole lot, because I wasn’t laying around getting a flabby heart.”

Jim also credits cardiac rehabilitation at Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital for helping him recover. 

“They are enthusiastic and genuinely concerned about helping you get better,” he said. “At my first session, they asked me about my goals and I said that by the end of the program I want to be back physically to where I was when I started.” 

Cardiac Rehab Exercise Specialist Nicole Schultz helped Jim reach his goals, in large part by setting limits for him. 

“At the first session, I asked if I could start lifting again,” said Jim. “She said no.” 

After two weeks of close monitoring of Jim’s activity at the cardiac rehab gym, he was allowed to start lifting again, at 50% of what he had been doing before. 

“By the end of cardiac rehab, I was at 95% of where I was, now I am above where I was,” he said. 

When Jim called from the Emergency Department, he sounded fine to Amy, and even though he’d had a heart attack, it took a while for it to sink in. 

“I’m a pretty stoic and optimistic person,” she said. “I don’t think the whole thing hit me until three or four weeks later. It was kind of surreal to know what the consequences could have been.” 

Just a few months before his heart attack, Jim had retired from 24 years of work in management roles at the Rogue Brewery in Newport. At 65, he was looking forward to enjoying retirement. Jim and Amy went on a trip to the United Kingdom for a month, and they planned a variety of trips abroad and activities closer to home. He was excited to be able to work on his property without having to fit projects into the weekend. He focused on maintaining good health — eating right and exercising. 

Since the heart attack, he is even more committed to staying healthy. He worked out three days a week before, and now he goes to the gym five days a week. He is more careful about meal choices.“I have not cut anything out,” he said.“I moderate a lot more than I used to. Less red meat, more whole grains, more chicken.”

Whether he is removing trees from his property to expand his gardens,spending time with his daughter and grandson, or going to a family reunion with Amy, Jim wants to be in good health and up to the task.

“I want to be able to spend time with my wife and travel with her,” Jim said. “I worked a lot for a lot of years. We will have been married 40 years in September. I owe her what time I have left.”

Recognize the warning signs of a heart attack.

Age, family history, blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, diabetes and weight are heart disease risk factors. Take a quick heart disease assessment to learn more about your potential risk.

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