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Heart Attack Survivor Says An iPad Helped Save His Life

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Technology may be what the doctor orders during a medical crisis after a Rochester man credited an iPad with helping to save his life.

Forty-eight-year-old Andy McMonigle, a Mayo Clinic rehab nurse, was exercising at the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center, the Mayo Clinic's fitness center for employees, when he felt severe pain in his arm. His training and medical history told him it was the beginnings of a heart attack. He had a stent put in four years ago after a similar attack.

"That pressure was bounding...boom, boom, boom," McMonigle said. "It was hard to dig deep and say, 'You know you need help. You can't fix this.' I realized that and had to turn to people that could help me."

McMonigle says he knew he was in the right place if he was indeed having a heart attack. He ran to the locker room, where he knew he'd be surrounded by doctors like internal medicine resident Daniel Lueders.

"As I was putting my bag over my shoulder he stops me and says, 'Excuse me sir, I think I am having a heart attack. Could you dial 911?,'" Lueders said.

"The next thing you know, there's a code being called in the locker room," McMonigle said.

Two more doctors came running, brothers and fellow internal medicine residents, Daniel and Christopher DeSimone. They were even more concerned when McMonigle told them he had a stent from a similar attack four years ago.

"He mentioned something about the widow maker, and when you hear that, your ears perk up right away. That's an indicator of a left main artery disease," Christopher DeSimone said.

Realizing they didn't have much time, the trio turned to technology.

Lueders said he remembered having his iPad in his bag. The tablet was a tool he had just gotten and was just beginning to use in his practice of medicine.

In seconds, he brought up the Mayo Clinic's application to access patient electronic medical records so as to look at McMonigle's EKG from his past heart scare. The doctors compared it to the new heart rhythms, which confirmed their suspicions that McMonigle was having an acute heart attack.

"He had what would be called an in stent thrombosis. And I've had people who've had that before and they've passed away, really abruptly," Daniel DeSimone said.

The medical records on the iPad helped the doctors make the decision to send McMonigle to the Catheterization Lab, where he had the blood clot removed from his artery, which was 90 percent blocked.

The doctors say had they sent McMonigle to the emergency room, he would have undergone blood tests, which would have taken an estimated three hours. The time would have resulted in more damage to his heart. Thankfully, McMonigle had the locker room diagnosis.

The Mayo Clinic says their system has been on the forefront of electronic medical records. All of the system's medical records are electronic and many of the doctors use iPads.

Both McMonigle and the residents who helped him want this case to be an example for the health care industry. They believe that electronic records and mobile technology can save lives in many situations.

"I think other facilities and companies will be looking at this," McMonigle said.

McMonigle said he's extremely grateful that the incident turned out the way it did.

"My family would have had to have thought of Feb. 23 differently," he said.

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