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McCarthy: Heart Attack Was 'A Wakeup Call'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said he's still taking it easy after his heart attack last month, but there's no way he can completely get away from his job as the city's top cop.

McCarthy had an emergency angioplasty procedure on June 5, after he woke up feeling discomfort in his chest and went to the hospital, where doctors discovered he had a 100 percent blockage in one artery, and an 80 percent blockage in another. He was released from the hospital two days later, but has been on doctor's orders to take at least a month off of work.

However, the superintendent said he can't stay away from his job completely.

"I've been doing half days a little bit here and there, staying in touch with the Blackberry, and things like that. ... There's no way that I can detach myself from what's happening. It's a lifestyle, not really a job," he said. "I love it, I just have to figure out how to make it not hurt as much."

McCarthy said he's feeling better, but not back to 100 percent yet, in large part due to the side effects of his medication.

"I feel okay. The medication, believe it or not, is beating the heck out of me, causing all sorts of physical ailments, but at the end of the day it was a wakeup call," he said.

McCarthy said the lesson for others is not to wait to see a doctor when feeling discomfort in their chest, especially people with a family history of heart problems.

"I encourage anybody who can to get a checkup, take a look at those stress tests, and don't wait to go to the hospital. That's the real lesson that I learned," he said. "All my friends would not have bet on me to be the one with the heart attack, because I watch what I eat and I exercise like crazy; but stress and heredity are things that you really can't overcome very easily."

The superintendent said he woke up at 4:30 a.m. on June 5 to go to the gym like he usually does, but something didn't feel right, but he didn't decide to go to the hospital right away.

"I was waiting for sharp pain," McCarthy said. "I felt like I needed air, even though I wasn't out of breath. I felt nauseous, but I didn't have pain, and eventually my girlfriend said 'Come on, let's go to the hospital.' I said, 'Okay, let's go.'"

McCarthy clearly hasn't lost his sense of humor.

"So far, I've been relaxing and losing my mind to my apartment, stuck in those four walls. The apartment's very clean right now, I can tell you that," he said.

He also said his cab driver refused to run a red light on the way to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, even though he told the cabbie getting pulled over by police would be the best thing that could happen.

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