Joel King, right, with his wife Erika at Medical City Fort Worth on Friday. King suffered a heart attack, but doctors at the nearby Cowtown Marathon helped save his life. Courtesy of Medical City Fort Worth.
Joel King, right, with his wife Erika at Medical City Fort Worth on Friday. King suffered a heart attack, but doctors at the nearby Cowtown Marathon helped save his life. Courtesy of Medical City Fort Worth.

Fort Worth

‘He’d be dead:’ Heart attack victim saved by doctors at Cowtown Marathon

March 04, 2017 01:19 PM

FORT WORTH

Doctors stationed at the Cowtown Marathon last week helped save a man’s life — but he wasn’t there for the race.

Joel King, 56, of Joshua, was working Sunday morning at the Will Rogers Memorial Center, where his family’s business, Metro Golf Cars, had provided carts for a horse show the day before.

About 7 a.m., his hands began tingling and he grew achy and light-headed. He also began feeling a slight pressure point in his chest.

But he didn’t realize he was having a heart attack until he went by a medical tent on the property, where doctors had created a temporary emergency room for the Cowtown Marathon.

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Inside the tent, Dr. Darrin D’Agostino and Dr. Jon Sivoravong — both on staff at Medical City Fort Worth and the UNT Health Science Center — put King on an electrocardiogram machine, which detected several irregularities. Then they gave him nitroglycerin and aspirin, lessening his pain.

His response to the medicine told D’Agostino one thing: “We were pretty sure it was a heart attack.”

Each thing that’s been treated, the mission was accomplished. I’m comfortable.

Joel King, heart attack survivor

MedStar arrived and took King to Medical City Fort Worth, where he lost consciousness. In fact, what he suffered was “sudden death,” said Dr. Keith Vasenius, the cardiologist who treated King in the emergency room.

Vasenius and nurses shocked him once, resuscitating him, and he survived after a surgery to put stents in his chest.

King spent the next few days still hospitalized but recovering. By Friday, he said he felt fine — low on energy, but hoping to head home soon.

“Each thing that’s been treated, the mission was accomplished,” he said. “I’m comfortable.”

Vasenius said King’s left anterior descending artery — the one that can cause what is known as a “widow maker” heart attack for its high rate of mortality — had been 100 percent clogged.

Coupled with that, King, on his own, did not suspect he was having a heart attack. Recognizing the symptoms is key, Vasenius said, but sometimes the first symptom is the heart attack itself.

If not for finding the marathon’s medical tent, “he’d be dead,” Vasenius said. “That’s how important they were.”

From his hospital bed Friday, King, whose father died of a heart attack at 55, stressed the importance of staying alert of symptoms. But he also knew he was fortunate to have been where he was Sunday. If he had been at home in Joshua, further away from doctors, the result probably would have been different.

“Everything that had to happen happened,” he said.