INDIANAPOLIS — As thousands prepare to participate in the American Heart Association Heart Walk this weekend, Joel Robbins of Fishers is grateful he beat the odds and lived to share the story of being rushed to a hospital in an ambulance when he had a heart attack at 44.
"I remember the one EMT talking to the ER saying, 'We're five minutes out, 44-year-old white male, need everybody ready. It's not good, need everybody ready,'" recalled Robbins.
Robbins remembers breaking out in a sweat, feeling intense pain and being unable to move his limbs.
"As they were wheeling me into the exam room, I told the head nurse I said, 'Don't let me die, I've got a lot to live for at home,'" Robbins said.
Joel and his wife Wendy now have a son in college and a daughter in high school. Seeing them thrive is a gift after Joel survived what is commonly called a "widow-maker" — a heart attack with a 100 percent blockage in the left anterior descending artery.
"I had an under three percent chance to survive that night. I had my heart attack. A lot of people usually are deceased by the time they hit the ground," Robbins said.
Robbins says the health crisis changed his perspective and enhanced his commitment to helping others.
"I would say probably the "best me" is being with my wife and kids. I am a servant's heart and I don't think I really realized it until the heart attack that I needed, you know, that was one thing in me that made me tick," Robbins said.
Just 56 days after his heart attack, Robbins made it a point to participate in the American Heart Association Heart Walk and he's been committed to the cause ever since. This year, he's donating two of the custom corn hole games he makes to support the cause. The business is a side gig he picked up during the pandemic.
"To try to repay an organization that had a huge part in me being able to return to my family. It's been a real joy to make that," Robbins said.
Robbins says looking back, he had warning signs and symptoms of heart disease that he ignored. Now he's passionate about spreading the word that family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and being overweight are risk factors that impact your heart health.
"If you have a question or an ailment or something that is just not right in your body, go get it checked out. Don't ignore it, don't rub dirt on it. It's not gonna go away. I'm a survivor because I got the medical help," Robbins said.
Robbins is walking in the AHA Indianapolis Heart Walk Saturday, September 25th at Victory Field. Gates open at 8:30 a.m. Chuck Lofton is the emcee. There is a 5K run and a 1 and 3-mile walk.
Learn more about the Heart Walk here.
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