- Mark Kader, 41, had a heart scare that required a trip to the hospital in August.
- He said he felt dizzy and nauseous before he passed out on the bathroom floor.
- Kader realized his heart rhythm was off in the ambulance, but he didn’t recognize the early signs.
As a cardiac nurse and heart pump expert, Mark Kader thought he would notice the signs of a heart attack if he ever had one.
The 41-year-old told Insider that he believed his risk of heart failure was low, since he has no family history of heart problems and exercises regularly. So when he began to feel dizzy and nauseous while doing repairs around his house, he didn’t think it was anything serious.
However, Kader said he collapsed on the bathroom floor and woke up to his wife pounding on the door. She had arrived home while he was unconscious and called an ambulance, which arrived shortly after he came to.
On the way to the hospital, Kader said he noticed his heart rhythm looked irregular on the EKG. He kicked himself for not recognizing the signs of his cardiac episode sooner, given his experience teaching doctors about the very same heart pump that ended up saving his life.
“It’s kind of embarrassing because I’ve been a cardiac nurse for 15 years and I blew off the signs,” Kader said. “You think it can happen to anybody else, but it won’t happen to you.”
Here are five symptoms of a cardiac episode that you should know, according to Kader.
Kader said he started to feel tired and dizzy while he was doing work around the house, so he assumed he was just dehydrated.
In reality, his lightheadedness was caused an irregular ventricular rhythm (or, arrhythmia), he said. His heart wasn’t working correctly to pump blood throughout his body and to his brain, which is known as cardiogenic shock.
He went to the bathroom, thinking he had to throw up, and woke up on the floor.
Nausea should have been Kader’s first sign that something was wrong, but he didn’t think his queasiness had anything to do with his heart.
Women are more likely to report nausea as a symptom of heart attack or arrhythmia, but it can also occur in men, especially younger patients, Kader said.
Kader’s age may have increased his odds of a swift recovery, as did his access to treatment. Doctors implanted him with an Impella pump — which happened to be Kader’s specialty as a clinical educator for Abiomed — to take some of the strain off of his heart. He only needed the device for two and a half days before he regained normal heart function.
While Kader wasn’t sure he had an irregular heart rhythm until he saw the EKG reading himself, he said it makes sense that he passed out.
Syncopal episodes, or fainting, is a common symptom of heart problems, which can include arrhythmias like Kader’s case as well as heart attacks.
“It’s the same thing going on when you have a heart attack,” Kader said, speaking of the warning signs of his arrhythmia. “The heart isn’t able to pump blood, so you can get those symptoms as well.”
Kader said he regained consciousness and was able to walk out to the ambulance with the help of paramedics. As he got his bearings, he noticed that he was “profusely sweating.”
Sweating is another common sign of heart troubles, according to the American Journal of Cardiovascular Disease. As the heart struggles to pump blood around the body, it’s natural to sweat in an attempt to cool down. Still, this symptom may be overlooked in the absence of chest pain.
Although Kader did not experience heartburn or crushing pain in his chest, either one may have prompted him to call an ambulance himself.
He said the “classic” symptoms of a heart attack or similar episode include eft arm pain, neck pain, and chest pain — which may feel like heartburn for women, he added.
“I didn’t feel like I was in that at-risk category,” Kader said. “But anytime you have any chest pain, discomfort, nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness — it’s worth getting checked out sooner. Because the sooner you get identified, the better that you’re going to be.”