bill syroka mercy health heart care story
Heart and Vascular

Mercy Stories: Identifying A Heart Attack

Oct 4 2018
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Heart attacks can happen even when you’re healthy — could you identify one happening?

48-year-old Bill Syroka was considered externally healthy. He actively played basketball, coached a JV basketball team and lifted weights regularly. His family didn’t have a history of heart problems.

And yet — on January 26, 2018, Bill was rushed to Mercy Health – St. Vincent Medical Center after suffering a heart attack during his son’s varsity basketball game.

“The doctors were shocked when they saw me. I’m very active,” Bill said. ““They told me it was just kind of bad luck.”

Despite an externally healthy appearance, internally, Bill was enduring an artery obstruction with 100% blockage. He first realized something was wrong when he began experiencing a new feeling within his body – and he knew it wasn’t good.  Being able to recognize this difference in his health immediately was critical in his treatment and recovery.

“Honestly, I was not sure if it was a heart attack immediately,” said Mercy Health employee and Whitmer High School Athletic Trainer, David Hamen. “I asked him if he was alright, and he said his chest felt really heavy.  His other vitals were fairly normal. His major complaint was the heavy chest pain, which is why EMS was called.”

Along with Hamen, Mercy Health employee and Clay Athletic Trainer, Ryan Gutzky, Bill’s brother and Toledo Fire Deputy Chief, Rick Syroka, and fellow fireman, John Martin, were among the first to provide medical attention on site.

“The crazy part was while this was happening, the Varsity Boy’s game was still being played, so Ryan and I were pulling double duty attending to our players and assisting as needed,” Hamen said

Shortly after, Bill was sent to Mercy Health – St. Vincent Medical Center where he received two stents to offset the blocked artery.

“I just thank God and the guys that were there. Those guys got me to where I needed to be to get me to the hospital, and of course the squad that came,” Bill said.  “It was an amazing job that they did.  You don’t realize how important their job is until you’re in that situation.  We should be thanking those guys every day for what they do.”

Since the heart attack, Bill has been recovering with his family and has a new outlook on life. Though the recovery process may be difficult, his newfound positivity has proved invaluable throughout his healing.

“It’s teaching me to enjoy every minute that I have with my wife, and my son, and that’s where I’m at,” Bill said. “People need to pay attention and take a look at what’s going on inside their body, not just outside their body.”

If you’re interested in speaking with a physician, the Mercy Health team is here for you. Reach out today to find a doctor.


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