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iPad helps save man's life at Mayo Clinic's Healthy Living Center

Doctors use emergency event as a learning tool
Mayo Clinic doctors Christopher DeSimone, Daniel Lueders and Daniel DeSimone rescued Andy McMonigle when he suffered an arterial blood clot in the locker room following a workout at the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center on Feb. 23. McMonigle is a nurse at Mayo Clinic.

Three Mayo Clinic physicians credit an iPad for saving a patient's life at the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center.

On Feb. 23, Andy McMonigle, 48, felt pounding pressure in his arm. He left his men's cycling club and went to the locker room. With his history of heart trouble, he knew he was in trouble, and asked a nearby man to help.

That man was Dr. Daniel Lueders, a Mayo Clinic internal medicine resident. He yelled as loud as he could for help, staying with McMonigle, who works as a rehabilitation nurse at Saint Marys Hospital.

Two brothers, Dr. Christopher DeSimone and Dr. Daniel DeSimone, also Mayo residents who'd spent their day on Lueders' internal medicine team, coincidentally came around the corner to help.

"He's telling me, 'This isn't pain, this is pressure,'" Lueders said. He grabbed from his backpack an iPad, which is now fairly standard equipment for Mayo physicians.


Within moments he was connected to the Mayo electronic medical record — another Mayo initiative has been to make the records quickly available to all providers through the Internet.

Lueders remotely reviewed McMonigle's history: Four years ago, McMonigle had symptoms of a heart attack, and a stress test showed that his left anterior descending artery was 90 percent blocked, something known as a "widow maker," because a sudden complete blockage can cause a fatal heart attack. McMonigle had a stent put in and his symptoms went away.

When the doctors compared McMonigle's medical history with his current symptoms, they knew they needed to act fast, because they suspected he had a blockage in his stent.

Automated External Defibrillators were brought by three different people, but McMonigle already had a heart rhythm and didn't need a shock. Aspirin, a simple drug used to thin blood, took time to find from someone at the gym. 

As time passes, heart damage increases. "That's why it was so critical," Christopher DeSimone said.

The doctors held the iPad's EKG record side-by-side with the strip that an ambulance crew printed, further confirming suspicions that he had a clot in his artery.

With that evidence, the doctors decided to send McMonigle directly to the cardiac catheterization lab to remove the clot, and they activated an emergency code so a team would be waiting for him. That decision likely saved his life; McMonigle's artery was blocked about 90 percent again.

A marker of a heart attack for takes time to appear in the blood and show up in a blood test.


"If we were to say, go to the ER, the first test would have come back negative. He would have waited at least three hours," Daniel DeSimone said.

McMonigle's heart seized on a Thursday. On Sunday, he was discharged from the hospital.

Four days later he was back at the Healthy Living Center, getting hugs from the doctors who'd saved his life.

"It's as good an outcome as you could have with a heart attack," Lueders said.


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