2007_2_health_brokenheart.jpgWhat's worse than a broken heart on Valentine's Day? How about a serious heart attack?! Earlier this month, Daniel Walker, a 17-year-old from the Bronx had just such an attack (aka myocardial infarction) thanks to a congenital anomaly. Doctors kept Daniel alive, using CPR and a bypass machine as temporizing measures while waiting for a heart transplant. When so much of the cardiac muscle is killed in an attack so as to render the heart useless as a pump, a transplant is the only option. But, call it a Valentine's miracle if you must, within days of the attack Daniel's heart starting beating on its own - leaving his doctors wanting for an explanation and his parents thanking God. His dad said, "If he wasn't a blessed child, I don't think he would have made it through this whole thing."

Daniel suffered the attack while jogging in gym class thanks to an anatomic variation that caused his coronary artery to become narrowed with exertion. The decreased blood flow through this stenosed vessel and the increased blood oxygen demands of the heart muscle during exercise were a near-neadly combination. He was originally treated with an intra-aortic balloon pump, which is a small balloon that sits in the aorta (the main artery exiting the heart and feeding the body) which inflates and deflates during certain moments of the heartbeat. When inflated, it diverts blood to the coronaries, the arteries that feed the heart itself, and when deflated, it lowers the workload the heart encounters when pumping blood to the rest of the body.

Once Daniel's heart was beating on its own, surgeons were able to get in there and correct that coronary artery anomaly that caused the attack in the first place - fixing his heart just in time for Valentine's Day.