‘Positive stress’ as dangerous as ‘negative’

Amid excitement, Ashdod man suffers heart attack shortly after giving a speech at his son’s wedding.

GENNADY FARBER (photo credit: Courtesy Kaplan Medical Center)
(photo credit: Courtesy Kaplan Medical Center)
Happy excitement can sometimes be as dangerous as nervous excitement when it comes to heart attacks. Gennady Farber learned this recently at his son’s wedding, when after giving his speech the 55- year-old of Ashdod suffered a heart attack and was rushed to Rehovot’s Kaplan Medical Center.
Hospital catheterization unit director Dr. Oded Eisenberg said Wednesday that positive emotional experiences can cause heart problems in people at risk.
Farber was attending the wedding of his 26-year-old son Alex – the first of his two children to get married – to Vika, who is studying to be a radiology technician at Kaplan.
The elder Farber was so overcome by excitement at the occasion that he suffered severe chest pain and was taken by ambulance from the wedding hall to the hospital. There, interventional cardiologists opened up a severely clogged coronary artery and introduced a stent to keep it open so oxygen-rich blood could reach the heart muscle.
The pain set in while he was dancing and began to sweat, said Gennady. “I tried not to let on that something was the matter so as not to ruin the wedding.” Then he started to give his speech, but says he could not continue. At the hospital, Farber was found to have a 99 percent blockage and that he had underdone a coronary infraction.
Farber’s wife, Yelena, who works as a nurse in Kaplan’s maternity ward, was by her husband’s side constantly. The married couple postponed their honeymoon to be with Farber during his recovery. About two weeks later, he was discharged to go home.
According to Eisenberg, research shows that emotional stress is similar to physical stress in causing fatty plaque inside coronary arteries to break off and clog the vessels completely or partially. “It doesn’t matter if the stress is positive or negative,” he explained. “It releases factors that can cause the blood vessels to contract, especially if the person has cardiac risk factors or known or hidden heart disease.”
The Kaplan cardiologist urged people with symptoms such as chest pains, sweating, difficulty breathing and/or nausea to call for help immediately.
Eisenberg’s unit performs 2,000 catheterizations, a procedure used to diagnose and treat some heart conditions, a year. Some 60% of patients undergo angioplasty (balloon therapy) immediately after being brought to the hospital, as in Farber’s case.
He advised all people over 40, or those over 35 with risk factors, to undergo scanning to see if their heart is in danger of suffering from clogs.
“There is no doubt that it was an unconventional wedding,” said Alex, an electrical engineer. He thanked the Kaplan staff for saving his father’s life. “The important thing is that Dad gets stronger and lives to see many grandchildren.”