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Michel Solien

Heart patient has no plans for stopping

Michel Solien figures the ambulance was near Paynesville when he lost consciousness on the way to St. Cloud.

Michel Solien and LindaMichel and Linda Solien

Earlier that morning, the 64-year-old New London resident woke with pain radiating down his left arm, the classic sign of a heart attack. Upon his arrival at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar, the emergency room staff initiated STEMI, a process for stabilizing and fast-tracking heart attack patients to the cath labs at St. Cloud Hospital.

Seven days later, Michel opened his eyes. He recalls muffled sounds, a ventilator and a sense he wasn’t alone in the room. He wondered, “What am I doing here?”

As Michel soon learned, he arrived at St. Cloud Hospital with a 100 percent blockage in his left anterior descending artery, often known as the “widow-maker” due to its high mortality rate. Even after receiving a stent, a nurse told his wife, Linda, that her husband was a “very, very sick man” who was in stable, but critical condition. Because nothing is certain, their children should be notified.

Due to Michel’s condition, Interventional Cardiologist Bernard Erickson, MD, decided to use a newer device, called an Impella, to aid in his recovery. Impella is a small heart pump delivered within a catheter through a leg artery to the heart. The device temporarily pumps blood for the heart, letting it rest and heal. “It’s an ingenious little device,” said Dr. Erickson. “Without it, and the early intervention and teamwork between Rice Memorial and the CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center, Michel wouldn’t be here today.”

Michal SolienMichel Solien walks every day.

In all, Michel spent 15 days in the hospital, but since has made a full recovery. “At first, my life was all doctors and pills,” Michel recalled. “It was overwhelming, but the doctors and nurses helped me get through it.”

Today, Michel is fully aware of what he needs stay healthy. He calculates the sodium and fat in his diet. He transformed the third stall in his garage into a gym and walks daily when the weather allows. “At first, my half hour walk took a full hour because I’d talk to everyone I saw,” Michel admitted. “Now I keep moving to get the heart rate up, and I have no plans for stopping.”