Christopher's Story- Widow Maker Heart Attack

Christopher E. Robin calls it the “Reaper’s Embrace.”

Over the course of two months, it grabbed at his chest. Christopher knew something was wrong, but when the feeling went away, he went on with his life. Until July 2, 2018. That was the day the Reaper did not want to let go.

For almost an hour, Christopher endured agonizing pain while his friend begged him to let her call 911. Eventually, Christopher relented. A mere 45 minutes after the ambulance arrived, he was in the Critical Care Unit at Reston Hospital Center, recovering from a “widow maker” heart attack. 

It would be several days before Christopher would actually meet the super-hero doctor who fought—and defeated—the Reaper. He was the soft-spoken, mild mannered Dr. Nicholas Cossa of Virginia Heart. That night in the ER, Dr. Cossa performed an emergency angioplasty to implant two new stents in Christopher’s coronary arteries.

“I could literally—and I mean literally—feel the rush of blood through my veins when they got those stents in,” Christopher recalls. Within days, he was feeling more like his old self and a little more than 72 hours after arriving at the hospital, he was back to work, leading a guided ghost tour in Washington D.C.

Dr. Cossa says if Christopher had not sought help, he may not have survived the heart attack. And if he did, he’d likely suffer from severe heart damage or chronic heart failure.

Thanks to the comprehensive care he received at Virginia Heart, Christopher, who is 53, has also been evaluated in the Sleep Disorder Clinic, where he was diagnosed with significant sleep apnea. He is now equipped with a CPAP machine that he says has “changed his life.” And because of Virginia Heart’s Risk Factor Modification Program, he is working hard at losing weight and resuming a healthy lifestyle. 

Christopher is eternally grateful to Dr. Cossa and all the medical professionals who helped save his life. But their compassionate care has special meaning to Christopher since he does not have comprehensive insurance coverage. “Everyone has been terrific,” he says. “Nobody has been judgmental about my situation. They have all been very encouraging and constantly remind me that you can always turn things around.”