Drummer Survives a Heart Attack and COVID-19

(From left) Dr. Puskas and Covid-19 survivor Ed Bettinelli are shown here after Bettinelli's successful coronary bypass surgery. Source: Mount Sinai

Ed Bettinelli is supposedly the first man on the planet to have survived a ‘widow maker’ heart attack and COVID-19 simultaneously.

In early February, when New York was still unaware of the looming COVID-19 threat, Ed Bettinelli collapsed on the floor in his home after suffering painful angina. This was just the beginning of a long list of battles Ed would face for the next few months. He later learned that multiple blood vessels in his body had a major blockage. Moreover, he was at risk of developing a ‘widow maker’ heart attack.

I’ve always kept myself in shape. I am the last person on the basketball court to tire. I’ve run 10 marathons. I had no idea I had a heart problem.

Ed Bettinelli

What is a ‘Widow Maker’ Heart Attack?

When the blood supply to the heart muscles is interrupted, it deprives the heart of essential nutrients and oxygen. The result? A heart attack.

Similarly, a ‘widow maker’ heart attack is a result of a complete blockage in the Left Anterior Descending (LAD) artery, which is the main artery on the surface of the heart. Due to its critical location, a blockage can be fatal if blood flow isn’t restored quickly.

Along with an unhealthy diet and high cholesterol, genetic factors also play a key role in the development of a widowmaker heart attack. 

“My Heart Grew Another Artery

After discovering multiple blockages in his heart, doctors at Mount Sinai immediately performed angioplasty and inserted a stent. Much to their surprise, Ed’s heart seemed to have grown another artery likely as a result of the reduced blood flow. 

An example of the robotic surgery performed on Ed Bettinelli.
Source: Mount Sinai

An elective bypass surgery was planned next. However, by the time the date of the surgery came around, New York was in the midst of the pandemic. COVID-19 had taken over and people were falling dead like flies. All elective surgeries at Mount Sinai were thus rescheduled to make way for the COVID-19 cases that were rising by the second.

Two weeks later, things took a turn for the worse. Ed started experiencing signs of COVID-19. After confirmation of his diagnosis, the 63-year-old spent his days quarantined away in his home battling recurring fevers and extreme fatigue.

Dr. John Puskas at Mount Sinai did not have much hope for his patient. A delayed bypass surgery along with a COVID-19 infection placed him in the high-risk group.

But, somehow Ed. battles through. Eventually in June, once the COVID-19 peak had passed, Dr. Puskas began conducting elective surgeries at Mount Sinai. The 63-year-old was the first patient he and his team operated on.

I will be willing to bet he’s the first person on the planet to have recovered from Covid-19 and then had invasive, robotic bypass surgery.

Dr. John Puskas (chair of cardiovasular surgery at Mount Sinai)


LaMotte, Sandee. This Survivor Battled Covid-19 and an Imminent Heart Attack – and Won. 24 Sept. 2020, edition.cnn.com/2020/09/24/health/heart-attack-covid-19-recovery-wellness/index.html. 


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