EKG designer catches own heart blockage with handheld cardia-mobile device

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) — Dozens participated in the American Heart Association’s annual Heart Walk Saturday morning in Milwaukee.

But for one man, walking in the event held a special meaning. 

Two years ago, Matt Pemberton, the director of core solutions at GE Healthcare, was shoveling snow off of his driveway when all of a sudden he began having trouble breathing.

“I couldn’t just take a deep breath. I had no chest pain, so I went inside and it went away very quickly,” Pemberton said. “That’s why I didn’t think it was much.”

But when he decided to go outside again just moments later, Pemberton said the same feeling happened within minutes.

“I go inside and my wife’s like, ‘hey, you should go to the doctor and do your ECG,'” Pemberton said. 

Luckily, that’s when he remembered he had a handheld cardia-mobile device from “a swag bag from my boss.”

“I grabbed it. It takes a single view of the heart unlike the ones we make at GE that’s a lot more comprehensive. Even though it’s not cleared to do this, I had knowledge of how to read an EKG. So I was able to read and notice there was a problem and I went into the hospital,” Pemberton said. “The device didn’t tell me it was bad, I just knew from my experience that I needed to go to the doctor.”

When he arrived, Pemberton was diagnosed with a heart blockage commonly known as “the widow maker.”

He credits the device for saving his life.

“My doctor said at any time I went back out, I could’ve easily blocked that artery and died on the driveway,” Pemberton said. 

Now years later, he’s undergone a complete lifestyle change from exercising more to eating healthier.

“I’m feeling great. It’s been two years since I had my open heart surgery,” Pemberton said. “I’ve lost weight and I’m feeling really good.”

His advice? Staying on top of your health.

“[My doctor] checks my cholesterol now twice a year. I didn’t check it at all before,” Pemberton said. “Take care of yourself. If I had any message for anyone. You don’t need a device to do that.”

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