David McCain

David McCain

Sometimes, you have to be COOL to survive.

David McCain literally didn’t know what hit him. Sitting up in his bed, lucid and talkative, he simply had no recollection of the heart attack that almost killed him. One minute, he was at the driving range at Indian Pines talking to the man next to him, and the next he was at EAMC talking to a very worried wife and daughter. What happened in the interim saved his life.

First, the man David was conversing with called 9-1-1 and was instructed to perform chest compressions, which he did. Second, Indian Pines had a defibrillator that was used. These interventions kept David alive, and EMS arrived and transported him to the ED at EAMC. And that’s when Dr. COOL was brought in.

Dr. COOL is a new intervention being used at EAMC, which stands for Cardio/neuro Optimal Outcome for Longevity. In more familiar terms, it is therapeutic hypothermia, which lowers the body temperature of heart attack victims to greatly reduce the risk of ischemic brain injury as well as improve the odds of long-term recovery. The treatment is provided via an Arctic Sun® cooling device from Medivance, which circulates cold water to pads that are placed on the patient at the torso, thighs and abdomen. Patients are cooled for about 24 hours, and then the body is slowly re-warmed for another 24 hours.

“Mr. McCain’s recovery has been extraordinary,” says Alicia Hegwood, RN, watching him walk down the hall at EAMC assisted by his physical therapists. “There are many factors that contributed to why you see him up and walking, instead of experiencing significant deficits – cognitive and physical. If we had not had Dr. COOL, he would only have had an 8 percent chance of surviving this heart attack.”

Dr. John Mitchell was the cardiologist on call that day who implemented Dr. COOL, and was the first physician to use the technology at EAMC. “Therapeutic hypothermia not only significantly increases survival rates in heart attack patients,” explains Dr. Mitchell. “It also greatly reduces brain injury due to lack of oxygen, as well as other complications.”

With all the interventions used to save David’s life, he insists there was one more. “Divine intervention,” reports David. “The fact that all the right people and the right equipment were in the right place at the right time for me specifically is nothing short of a miracle.”

After quadruple bypass open-heart surgery at UAB, David McCain is looking happy to be alive while rebuilding his strength at cardiac rehab at EAMC. And, he’s already back on the golf course. Now, that’s cool!