After a Heart Attack in His Thirties, Where is He Now?

February 8, 2021

In early 2020, we shared the story of Przemyslaw “Simon” Blazejowicz, whose life hung in the balance as doctors at JFK Medical Center rushed to unravel the medical mystery that led to his heart attack at age 34.

While the Polish-born immigrant’s parents both had heart disease, Simon—who went to the gym six times a week—experienced no significant health problems before collapsing in his South Plainfield, New Jersey home. It would be five days before the truck driver and father of one awakened to learn his heart had stopped several times and that a blood-clotting disorder he likely shared with his father was responsible for his cardiac crisis.

We checked on Simon a year later, and he and his family are enjoying his “second chance.” Here’s what he had to say:

 

Q: How have you been feeling since your care at JFK Medical Center? Have you had any follow-up care?

A: Since my discharge, I honestly must say I feel great. I can’t believe it has been almost two years since I had the heart attack. Since I am still taking a blood thinner, I continue to do weekly blood workups to monitor a protein produced in the liver that affects blood clotting. I also continue to follow up at the office every couple of months with Saleem Husain, M.D., who’s the director of JFK’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab and Chest Pain Unit and helped save my life. So far, everything has been going well, and I only hope it continues.

Q: Have you done anything special that you couldn’t do before?

A: I try to stay as active as I can. Since my recovery, one thing I’ve truly started to enjoy is running. In the warmer months, I run 4 to 5 miles a day. The majority of my time I try to spend with my son playing soccer or basketball. In the winter, I really love snowboarding with my family, and during the summer, we take our bikes down the Shore a couple of times a week.

Q: What have you changed in your life to stay heart-healthy?

A: I significantly changed my eating habits since the heart attack. When shopping, I always read the labels and count the calories, and I’ve really tried to increase my fruit and vegetable consumption. We don’t go out to eat much or buy junk food, and we’ve significantly reduced our sugar and salt intake. If we want to treat ourselves and have a burger or pizza, we instead make it ourselves so we know what’s really in it. I have my wife to help keep me on the right track!

Q: How have you been keeping healthy during the pandemic?

A: I’ve tried to live as “normal” a life as possible. I definitely believe in wearing masks, washing my hands and using hand sanitizer as often as I can. It’s so important to do my part in this pandemic and not only protect myself, but also my loved ones. Knowing I am more at risk because of my heart condition definitely plays a part in how my family and I have reacted to the pandemic.

Q: What would you want people to learn from your experience?

A: I would tell everyone to live your life to the fullest. We often stress about the small stuff and argue about things that aren’t significant in the long run. If you want to do something, just do it—take the leap. Reach out to an old friend. Be spontaneous. Tell your family and friends you love them. Appreciate the small things and cherish the big life events.

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