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October 19, 2012 06:07 PM

Surviving Widow Maker Blockage

Many of us have done it; figured we were sick with a certain illness, but after going to the doctor's, we ended up being completely wrong.

A Sioux Falls man is sure glad he went to the doctor's office. Rex Pruitt thought he had a sinus or ear infection, but instead his doctor made a life-saving diagnosis.

The Pruitt family is a lively group with seven-year-old Reagan holding a lot of the cards.

"I think after KELOLAND today we're going to go golfing," Reagan said.

But lately the family has resorted to playing the card game called golf. It all started with Reagan's dad Rex going to the doctor's office for what he thought was a sinus or ear infection.

"I said, 'Can you take a look at my ear? I might need some antibiotics.' He goes, 'Ok,' and looks in my ear and says, 'There's a little fluid, but I'm not seeing anything going on.' He says, 'Tell me some of the symptoms,'" Rex said.

"He was explaining some symptoms of chest pain when he started to walk and when he even said he had to stop in order to get better, that was a red flag that this is something more than a sinus infection," Sanford Dr. Wallace Fritz said.

Fritz feared Pruitt might be suffering from heart problems. He sent him straight to the emergency room, even though Pruitt doubted the possible diagnosis.

"It can be an inconvenience, but in this case and in many cases, it's important that we did go further," Fritz said.

The Pruitt family is thankful too because doctors found out 99 percent of Rex's widow maker artery was blocked. The average person with a widow maker heart attack has five minutes to get emergency care before dying.

"He went out and talked to Kathy in the waiting room and told her, 'I don't know why your husband is alive," Rex said.

Rex is now feeling better one month after getting a stent placed in his artery. He's going on walks again with his family and has a new outlook on his health.

"Watch the signs better. Pay attention to what my body is telling me," Rex said.

"I just know he's alive, so maybe we can move on. It's happy days," Reagan said.

Happy days for a family that's thankful for the hand of cards they've been dealt.

Pruitt says one of his coworkers was suffering from the same symptoms as he was, so after his experience, he encouraged him to go to the doctor. He also had a widow maker blockage.

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