Rick Sexton had a heart attack a mile underground

Muhummad Ahmad, MD, the physician that saved Rick's life

Rick Sexton of Pikeville was one mile underground in a West Virginia coal mine when he suffered a life-threatening heart attack. Thanks to the extensive training of his coworkers, diligence of the first responders, and the Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) Heart and Vascular Institute, he lived to tell his story.


“We had been working in the mines and were almost finished when I collapsed,” said Sexton. “After realizing the severity of the situation, the guys shocked me twice. They put me on a stretcher and got me outside to an ambulance.”


Sexton says the ambulance intended to take him to a local hospital in West Virginia but his wife, Jeanette Sexton, had an entirely different plan. “I was contacted by Rick’s boss,” said Jeanette. “He asked me if Rick had been sick and then told me his condition at that time. I remembered he had told me about having a burning in his chest a few days earlier. When I found out he was vomiting, my first concern was his heart.”


Jeanette says being a registered nurse helped her process some of the possible risks he was facing. “I told him I was afraid it could be his heart,” she said. “I told his boss to get him an ambulance and bring him to PMC. I wanted him in a facility that was certified and could give him the very best care.” It was not long before Jeanette received a second call from her husband’s boss. She was told he was being combative and needed to be intubated. “I asked if they could get a helicopter and fly him to PMC, and that is what they did,” she said.


When Sexton arrived at PMC there was an entire cardiac team waiting for him on the helipad. They took him straight to the cath lab. “I was shocked at how quickly the staff came out of the cath lab to talk to us,” she said. “In no time at all, they had inserted the cath and determined he had 100 percent blockage.”


Jeanette says she is constantly talking about how wonderful PMC is but it is incredible to see the staff in action. She said, “The team was amazing. Dr. Ahmad answered every one of my questions without taking for granted I knew anything about the situation.”


Jeanette said the next phase of his treatment continued to impress her. “They took him to the intensive care unit (ICU) and the care could not have been any better. Those nurses and the intensivist were so experienced and knowledgeable,” said Jeanette.

“I do not remember any of this,” said Sexton. “I was basically told all details after the fact.” He says he felt like he had been asleep for five or ten minutes. “My hats off to all those who helped me. It was a team effort, from the mines to recovery, I was well taken care of and I am thankful.”


Sexton says he is feeling fine now. He completed cardiac rehabilitation at PMC to become stronger every day. “I guess every day for me in like a bonus. Now I think about things, a lot of things in a different way,” he said.

“One minute I had a husband who was well and the next he was having a heart attack,” said Jeanette. “Today he is doing great and I am thankful for all the people who treated Rick and supported out family during this unbelievable time.”


For information about heart health, visit the Heart and Vascular Institute page on our website or call 606-218-2201.