"I could hear them saying, 'I cannot feel his pulse' but I could not respond."
This was the predicament that Al Winick found himself in after collapsing on a commercial flight from Israel to the United States. "The last thing I remember was standing up in the aisle of the plane," recalls Mr. Winick. Luckily for Mr. Winick there were not only medical supplies on the plane but five physicians. Unable to stabilize Mr. Winick, the plane made an emergency landing in Frankfurt, Germany where, in May of 2008, Mr. Winick underwent a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI or angioplasty) to place a stent in his narrowed right coronary artery.
When Mr. Winick arrived back in Chicago, he walked over to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, without an appointment, and said, "I would like to see a cardiologist." Forty-five minutes later, Mr. Winick's new cardiologist was James D. Flaherty, MD. "I cannot say enough about Northwestern Memorial and the Department of Cardiology. Dr. Flaherty and his fellows are wonderful. They went out of their way to make me comfortable and to ensure that I received appropriate treatment."
Unfortunately, a few days after meeting with Dr. Flaherty, Mr. Winick experienced the same symptoms he had on the plane. After calling 911, Mr. Winick was taken by ambulance to Northwestern Memorial where he once again underwent a PCI to place two additional stents.
By June of 2008, Mr. Winick had recovered enough to start cardiac rehabilitation at Northwestern Memorial. "I loved it from day one," states Mr. Winick. "They gave me detailed guidance and showed me how to build up my stamina. Everyone there is very encouraging, supportive and kind. The nurses are great."
Mr. Winick's cardiac rehabilitation lasted 12 weeks (36 sessions), 3 times a week. During this time he lost 30 pounds. With the conclusion of cardiac rehabilitation, Mr. Winick continues to work out on his own in the fitness center in his building. "I became religious about working out and asked myself, "Do I want to eat desserts and junk food or do I want to eat healthy food, exercise and live? The answer for me was easy." Mr. Winick stresses that eating healthily is not that difficult and it is a choice that he is happy to make.
Mr. Winick's dedication and hard work have inspired his entire family to follow suit. "We are all working out and living a healthy lifestyle now. My wife and two daughters always ate well and exercised, but my sons and sons-in-law needed to improve their lifestyles. My older son has lost 40 pounds and looks great. My younger son was never overweight but he rides his bike and exercises all the time now. I am very proud of all of us."
Mr. Winick and his wife live in Chicago, just off Michigan Avenue. As a way to stay active and supplement their exercise routine, they now walk wherever they can. "Chicago is such a great city to walk around that my wife and I try to walk everywhere we go. We walk to the theatre, Lincoln Park, the symphony, and Millennium Park; we recently completed the 5-mile Susan G. Komen Cancer Walk in Chicago."
To date, at 67 years old, Mr. Winick has lost 75 pounds. At his current 154 pounds he is just 15 pounds over what he weighed in high school. "My goal was to get healthy and stay healthy. I am well on my way." ***