Numerous middle-aged bicycle riders were rushed to Emek Medical Center in Afula in the past five weeks to undergo angioplasty, to clear their coronary arteries of plaque preventing blood from coursing through their hearts.
Bentzi Zuckerman, a 52-year-old man from the Haifa suburbs, has in recent years gone biking with his wife Hadassah and a group of other riders to sites around the Jezreel Valley and Mount Gilboa, always covering dozens of kilometers of difficult territory.
Last Shabbat, while riding near Malkishua near the end of the journey, Zuckerman felt chest pains and pressure and stopped to rest. But after a few minutes, the pains and pressure intensified. When a physician in the group understood that Zuckerman was undergoing a heart attack, he laid him down, raised his legs and called an mobile intensive care unit that took him straight to Emek’s catheterization room.
His main coronary artery was found to be completely blocked, and he was in immediate danger, said Ina Schneider, the chief nurse in the catheterization unit.
Dr. Yoav Turgeman and other senior cardiologists said that the same thing had happened to four other bike riders since the beginning of February.
In recent years, the doctors said, people aged 40 to 60 have started to exercise without being examined for whether they are up to it. Moreover, some people exercise only once a week – usually on weekends – without getting out of the house regularly, which increases the risk factor, they said.
People over the age of 40 who take up vigorous sports should first be examined by their family doctor or, preferably, by a sports medicine expert, the doctors said.
After three days in the cardiac intensive care unit, Zuckerman was discharged, and he and his wife warmly thanked the Afula hospital staff for saving his life.