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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Fast heart attack care saves Spokane man from a widow-maker

The cardiac care team at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center helped a Spokane man survive a widow-maker heart attack with fast, expert treatment.

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In August 2022, Rick Hosmer was mountain biking in Mount Spokane State Park, one of his favorite hobbies. As a healthy and active 60-year-old, Hosmer could still make it up those steep hills.

But on this day, he found he felt a little off. He had to push his bike up one hill. Then another. When he made it to where the trail leveled off, he had to lie down.

“As I lay there in a cold sweat, I knew something was wrong,” Hosmer says. “After 20 minutes with no relief, I finally told my friend to get help.”

Hosmer’s friend took off down the mountain while Hosmer texted his wife to tell her something was wrong. She called him immediately and he told her to call an ambulance. Fortunately, Hosmer’s friend found some women working on trail maintenance who could drive Hosmer to the parking lot.

The ambulance met him there and EMTs determined he was having a cardiac event.

“I’ve always been active and healthy, with low blood pressure and cholesterol,” says Hosmer. “A heart attack was the last thing I thought would happen to me.”

They were out in the country, far from a hospital. EMTs called for the Life Flight Network helicopter to take him as quickly as possible to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane.

The cardiac team was ready for him and rushed him to the cardiac catheterization lab for lifesaving care. They quickly found a blood clot blocking his left anterior descending artery, right in the center of his heart. Blood clots in this artery cause “widow-maker heart attacks.” They have a 90% fatality rate—though fatality rates are higher if someone is more than two hours away from cardiac care, just like Hosmer was.

Because Hosmer listened to his body, his friend moved quickly and Life Flight Network got him to the expert Providence Heat Institute heart attack team at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, he survived. In the catheterization lab, his team removed the clot and installed a stent (a wire mesh tube) to keep the artery open. Blood flow returned to his heart, saving the heart muscle and Hosmer’s life.

Hosmer spent four days in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and two days in the cardiac unit before he could go home.


The Trail to Heart Attack Recovery

Hosmer tackled his recovery the same way he tackled biking those steep trails: with perseverance. On the first day he was allowed out of bed, he walked two miles of laps around the hospital hallways. His level of fitness before his heart attack helped him survive and get back on his feet.

He attended cardiac rehab three times a week at Providence St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Medical Center, helping his heart regain strength. By December, four months after his heart attack, he was working hard at home 3 to 4 hours a week on the treadmill and stationary bike.

Hosmer returned to the unit six months after the heart attack—this time for a much happier occasion. With a tearful embrace, Hosmer was able to thank Sandy Hayman, one of the Providence nurses who saved his life.

“I was so excited to let her see me healthy and happy,” says Hosmer. “I want the doctors, nurses and staff here to know that their work, their care and compassion, has a long-lasting impact on their patients.”

Now Hosmer is spending his weekends back on the trails, both hiking and mountain biking. In fact, he plans to commemorate his one-year heart attack anniversary by biking the very same trail where he nearly lost his life.

“I take medication each morning and evening to lower my blood pressure and help my heart rest and heal,” says Hosmer. “Other than that, you’d never know I had a heart attack. I’m determined to be as active and healthy as I can and hopefully serve as an inspiration to anyone who experiences a heart attack or other cardiac event.”


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Related resources

Heart Attack Survivor Reunites With Nurse Who Saved His Life

8 ways to start lowering your blood pressure today

Heart disease can happen at any age: what to know and where to go


This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional’s instructions.