That is what 48-year-old Alexander “Alex” Corredor kept telling his doctor and paramedics as they rushed him to Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital. Lucky for Alex, they knew better.
Flashback to several weeks earlier. Alex had been suffering from dizziness and feeling tired for weeks. The three-time IRONMAN triathlete could barely run 100 feet without feeling dizzy. An active person, Alex had taken on running and exercise after encouragement from his wife, Michelle. “I started with smaller races and then eventually became a coach for other triathletes,” said Alex.
Alex had been training for his next race, the North Face Endurance Challenge, when the dizziness persisted. Although he thought what he was feeling was heartburn because of his constant burping, he visited his primary care doctor who ordered an electrocardiogram (EKG) to check his heart as a precaution. The EKG didn’t show any abnormal signs; however, his doctor suggested seeing a cardiologist. Alex made an appointment with Dr. J.R. Soto, an interventional cardiologist with the Memorial Hermann Medical Group Cardiology – Southwest.
Testing Revealed an Irregular Heartbeat and More
Through testing, Dr. Soto found Alex had an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia. Dr. Soto put Alex on a heart monitor and scheduled him for a stress test a week later.
The day came for Alex to have his stress test, and in less than two minutes on the treadmill he began to feel dizzy. “The doctor and nurses all began telling me to lay down, lay down,” said Alex. When he looked over at the monitor, his heart rate had gone up to 220 beats per minute (bpm).
“All the nurses in the room were asking me how I felt. I kept telling them I felt fine.” After a few minutes, Alex’s heart rate was still above 200 bpm. Nurses called the paramedics and before he knew it, Alex was in the back of an ambulance with Dr. Soto, headed to the Emergency Center at Memorial Hermann Southwest.
On the way, Alex’s heart rate continued to stay above 200 bpm, and no matter how many times he said he felt fine and asked if he could sit up, Dr. Soto told him to continue to lie down.
“During this time, my heart monitor had gone off and alerted my wife, who was extremely worried and unable to get in touch with me,” said Alex.
Rushed to the ER
Dr. Soto warned Alex that he may need surgery as soon as they reached the hospital. When they arrived at Memorial Hermann Southwest, Alex’s heart rate dropped almost immediately to a normal range, between 70 and 100 bpm, as the paramedics wheeled him out of the ambulance.
However, while in the Emergency Center, Alex couldn’t stand or go to the restroom without his heart rate again skyrocketing past 200 bpm. That evening Dr. Sohail Jalal, a cardiac electrophysiologist affiliated with Memorial Hermann Southwest, performed a heart ablation.
During the minimally invasive procedure, Dr. Jalal inserted a straw-like tube through Alex’s wrist and threaded it through the artery until it reached his heart before injecting a dye through the catheter to show where Alex’s heart had blockage. He then inserted a catheter through the groin, the artery and then to the heart, where Dr. Jalal was able to remove the abnormal tissue that prevents electric signals by giving it a “zap.”
After spending two nights at the Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute – Southwest on the campus of Memorial Hermann Southwest, Alex was discharged and able to return home.
Getting Back to Training
Over the next year, the triathlete was encouraged to only do light exercise. As soon as he received clearance from Dr. Soto, Alex aimed high and participated in Swim the Suck, a 10-mile open water swim race through the Tennessee River Gorge. “I’m feeling great now. I haven’t had any symptoms, I’m not on any medication and, most importantly, I’m able to get back to exercising,” said Alex.
Today, he is training for a “bucket list” adventure of completing a 25 to 30 mile trail run along the Havasupai Falls in the Grand Canyon.
“I’m extremely grateful to have been at the doctor’s office when this all occurred because I could have eventually had a heart attack or stroke,” said Alex. “Although I lead an active lifestyle, the most important thing I did was listen to my body when things didn’t feel normal.”
If you’re concerned about your heart health or the heart health of a loved one, schedule an appointment now with one of Memorial Hermann’s affiliated cardiologists.