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Beebe’s Dr. Freih helped me weather a widowmaker



I have a pretty terrific life. Not only am I a proud Rehoboth Beach business owner, but I also host a radio show called “Daybreak” every weekday morning on RadioRehoboth 99.1FM.
This past Valentine’s Day, in support of February as American Heart Month, I had the pleasure of interviewing Keith Markowitz, director of service development for Delaware Hospice.
Keith’s message that morning was important. He educated me and my listeners about heart attacks. He pointed out that people – women especially – sometimes ignore heart attack symptoms because they don’t feel the “typical” tight chest and tingling right arm. He explained that heart attack symptoms can include sudden, excessive sweating and unusual, dramatic fatigue.
The very next morning as I was getting ready for work – just 20 hours after that interview – I began sweating profusely and became suddenly weak. Instead of simply lying back down to rest, I remembered Keith’s words. I dialed 911, reported my symptoms to the dispatcher and asked for an ambulance.
Sussex County EMTs arrived promptly at my home and, using a portable echocardiogram, took a picture of my heart. They told me I was indeed having a heart attack. I remember them carrying me to the ambulance and putting nitroglycerine tablets under my tongue as they rushed me to Beebe. I also recall them saying I would likely be met by 15 or 20 people when I arrived at Beebe’s Emergency Department, and they weren’t kidding.
Among those waiting for my arrival was Dr. Mouhanad Freih. Board certified in cardiology and interventional cardiology, and with more than 22 years of experience, Dr. Freih saved my life that morning.
I was having the worst kind of heart attack – a so-called “widowmaker.” My left anterior descending artery was 100 percent blocked, and my diagonal branch artery was 95 percent blocked. Dr. Freih spoke calmly and clearly, advising me that he would need to immediately insert a stent into at least one of my arteries.
Two hours later I woke in ICU with a small incision on my right wrist and two brand-new stents in my arteries. Four hours later I was up walking laps on the ICU floor. Three days later I was back at work.
I had no idea I was at risk for my heart attack. Even with my active lifestyle and healthy diet, I had the kind of heart attack that only has a 2 percent survival rate.
Today, I am a very grateful man. I am grateful to Beebe Healthcare for being here for me and my community. I am grateful for Dr. Freih and his expertise. I am grateful for that Valentine’s Day interview that planted a seed of awareness which prompted me to dial 911 the next morning.
In August, Beebe Healthcare was recognized with four American Heart Association Awards. Beebe earned one of those honors, The Mission: Lifeline Silver Receiving Quality Achievement Award, by meeting specific criteria and standards of performance for quick and appropriate treatment through emergency procedures to re-establish blood flow to blocked arteries in heart attack patients coming into the hospital directly or by transfer from another facility.
As a community-based, not-for-profit healthcare system, Beebe Healthcare depends on the generous support of individuals, local businesses, corporations and private foundations. Contact Beebe Medical Foundation to make a gift or 302-644-2900.
Caption: Jeff Balk, left, celebrates the excellent care he received from Dr. Mouhanad Freih.

Jeff Balk, left, celebrates the excellent care he received from Dr. Mouhanad Freih.