Surviving the Widow Maker Heart Attack

A Lesson in Timely Action and Proper Planning.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many aspects of life were put on hold. Unfortunately, one of those crucial aspects left many people seeking medical help for heart-related issues. The Widow Maker was one of the said cardiac problems.

Charlie’s story (his name Has been omitted for privacy purposes) serves as a stark reminder that heart disease doesn’t take a vacation, even during a pandemic. His survival from the deadliest type of heart attack often referred to as “the Widow Maker,” holds important lessons for all of us, both in terms of our health and our financial preparedness.

A Close Call

As the pandemic forced people into their homes, routines were disrupted, and, for many, exercise and healthy habits took a backseat. Charlie, like so many of us, put on some extra weight during this time. However, on May 1st, 2022, something changed. Charlie decided to do some yard work, followed by his daily workout on his punching bag. Despite a great workout, he didn’t feel right afterward. It was a feeling he couldn’t ignore, and it led to a series of life-changing events.

Realizing Something Was Wrong

Charlie’s first instinct was to think of his daughter, an Internal Medicine Specialist in Chicago. What would his daughter advise him to do in this situation? Without hesitation, he took a single aspirin and asked his wife Susie (her name has been omitted as well) to call 911. Within minutes, EMTs were at his door. They immediately recognized the gravity of the situation.

The Widow Maker

Charlie was experiencing more than just a heart attack; it was The Mac Daddy of all heart attacks, known as The Widow Maker.” This term is used for heart attacks caused by a 100% blockage of the left anterior descending artery. With this type of blockage, the heart can stop suddenly, often with little warning. Survival rates for patients experiencing Widow Maker symptoms of cardiac arrest outside of a hospital are only around 6%. By the time he reached Cleveland Clinic General Hospital, the pain was excruciating.

In his own words: He was prepared to meet His Maker.

A Timely Intervention

In the Cath lab at the hospital, Charlie was met by a team of doctors, including cardiologist Dr. Ankur Kalra. Charlie’s pain was at a “10 out of 10,” and he believed he was ready to die.

Being a man of faith all of his life, his words to the doctor were: “-Doc, I have lived a great life. I know where I am going to and I am all His. Just please tell my wife and kids that I truly love them.”-

However, Dr. Kalra had other plans. He knew the importance of acting quickly to prevent significant heart damage. In just a couple of minutes, he successfully reestablished blood flow to Charlie’s artery through a balloon angioplasty and stent placement.

The Widow Maker: Recovery and Reflection

Charlie’s recovery was as swift as it was miraculous. Within 50 minutes of the procedure, he felt fine. He credits His God, the Cleveland Clinic medical staff, and Dr. Kalra for saving his life. The message from both the doctor and the patient is clear: if Charlie had hesitated to seek medical attention due to COVID-19 fears, the outcome could have been tragically different. The Widow Maker would have chalked up another victim.

The Widow Maker: Lessons for All

Charlie’s Widow Maker experience offers several valuable lessons:

  • Don’t Delay Medical Attention: If something doesn’t feel right, especially when it comes to your health, don’t hesitate to seek medical help. Call 911! Seconds and minutes can make all the difference.
  • Know the Symptoms: Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of a heart attack, especially those associated with a blockage in the left anterior descending artery. This knowledge can be lifesaving.
  • Exercise and Diet Matter: Gary’s post-recovery focus on healthy living is a reminder that exercise and a balanced diet are essential for heart health.
  • Regular Check-ups: Don’t neglect routine check-ups with your healthcare provider. Preventive care can catch issues early and potentially save your life.

Insurance as a Safety Net:

Finally, Charlie’s story underscores the importance of insurance in our lives. Individual Disability and Cash Value Life Insurance played crucial roles in providing financial security and wealth protection during his recovery and beyond.

When the main breadwinner of a family is unable to work, the looming worry about how bills would get paid, mounting medical expenses, and facing an unknown future, can create a scary situation for any family

But hope was not lost. You see, as a seasoned insurance professional, Charlie had been wise enough to have purchased both Individual Disability and Cash Value Life insurance, and he had included some special “riders” (add-ons) in his policy. These riders worked like secret superpowers hidden within his insurance.

First, his disability insurance started paying him a portion of his regular income, since he could not perform the “substantial and material (principal) duties of his profession as a Speaker and Business Coach. This helped cover their everyday expenses. It was the financial lifeline that kept them afloat.

Then, one of the riders kicked in. It was called a “critical illness rider.” Because Charlie’s illness was severe, it triggered this rider and he received a lump sum payment. This money helped pay for his medical out-of-pocket expenses and other unexpected costs that came with his illness.

Both the disability and the cash value life insurance policy he had purchased years before, included a rider called Waiver of Premium. Essentially, his disability was due to an illness or injury that met the policy’s definition of disability (which can vary).

The insurance company waived the future premium payments for as long as Charlie remained disabled and met the policy’s conditions. He didn’t have to pay the life insurance premiums either while unable to work, and the rider prevented both policies from lapsing due to missed premium payments during his disability period.

Coverage Continued:

Despite not paying premiums, both the disability and life insurance coverage remained in force during the disability period. Had Charlie passed away while the rider was in effect, his beneficiaries would have still received the death benefit as specified in the policy.

As the days turned into weeks and then months, Charlie focused on his recovery. With the financial support from both his disability, cash value life insurance, and the critical illness rider, he didn’t have to worry about the family’s finances. Susie had been there to take care of him during this tough time without the additional stress of worrying about their financial health.

Slowly but steadily, Charlie has regained his strength and returned to work. Thanks to both policies and those powerful riders, the family has weathered the storm. Their savings remained intact, and they avoided falling into the scary pit of financial hardship.

The story of Charlie and his family serves as a reminder of how fragile life is and how both life and disability insurance, along with smart riders on both policies, can be superheroes in times of need. It saved them from the brink of financial disaster, allowing them to focus on what truly mattered – his health and each other. It’s a tale that encourages us all to consider our own individual health as well as focus on setting proper financial safety nets, ensuring that we have the protection we need when life starts hurling fastballs at us.


Charlie’s journey from a near-fatal heart attack to recovery offers hope and lessons for us all. His story highlights the importance of timely action when it comes to health, as well as the significant role insurance can play in securing your family’s financial future. As we navigate life’s challenges, let us remember Charlie’s words: “Don’t wait. Get help.” Your health, family and your financial security are worth it.

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