AN INTERVIEW WITH JON PATRICK HYDE -
FOUNDER OF SUMMIT4CAD
Jon Patrick Hyde's love affair with bicycles and
cycling started at age 5 when he learned to ride a
training-wheel free bicycle on the streets around
his house in the rolling hills of Nashville,
A year later his family would relocate to Savannah,
Georgia, where he'd spend the next 30 years of his
life. In Savannah, living on the last street
in the last neighborhood on the outskirts of the
city he had access to countless acres of woods and
forest. His first cycling adventures involved BMX bicycles ridden on home-made BMX trails.
When he was 16 his family moved further into
the urban center of Savannah and gone were the woods
and trails. This opened his cycling experience
up to road bikes. His father, a military
veteran, had moved their family to a short distance
from Hunter Army Airfield, a sizable military
installation in the heart of Savannah. Seeing
countless cyclists riding on the base's perimeter
road each day, Jon decided to use his military
dependent I.D. card to ride his bicycle onto the
base and ride with the soldiers he met there.
This opened his world up to the sport of
cycling and the many top-shelf, hand made European
bicycles of the day. Many of the cyclists he
often rode with had spent time in Europe and had
come back with bicycles not readily available in the
USA. His love of these exotic hand-made
bicycles and the camaraderie that is shared among
cyclists set him on a
life-long path. By the time he
graduated high school he was often riding 60
miles a day.
Fast forward 20 years and Jon would find himself
relocating to Southern California. He found
that SoCal's weather was conducive to year-round
cycling and near his home he found miles and miles
of dedicated cycling paths. His cycling habit
was once again ignited and within a year of
relocating to California he was a 7 day a week
cyclist. Jump forward another 10 years and
that's where the story of Summit4CAD really begins;
on an average day where after a regular ride Jon
experienced an unexpected life-threatening heart
attack. Here is the story in his own words;
I had finished my
daily (short) afternoon course when I felt light
headed and exhausted. I was getting over a
chest cold and I figured I'd overdone it. I had a
normal evening and night and went to bed around
At 3am I woke up with what I like to say was an "aircraft
carrier" on my chest - elephant just didn't
seem to do the sort of pain I was experiencing
justice. I sat up and it instantly went away.
Odd. Heart attacks don't normally do that but a
condition called Pericarditis does. As I mentioned I
had just gotten over a bad chest cold. I checked my
heart rate with my phone and it was normal. I
decided to lay back down and go back to sleep.
An hour later woke
up with the same pain - I sat up and it went away.
One bad thing about having a medical background is
sometimes you overthink things. Other times you
don't think enough - Pericarditis is an infection of
the sack your heart sits in and is usually caused by
a bad chest infection. It mimics a heart attack when
you are laying flat but when you sit up the pain
goes away. In this case too much knowledge and my
inability to believe I could possibly be having a
heart attack (I don't smoke, don't drink alcohol or
soft drinks, don't eat fried foods, don't eat red
meat or dairy, and I was cycling around 120-150
miles a week at the time) - all of this conspired to
prevent me seeking immediate medical assistance.
I got up, went
downstairs and turned on the TV. I made my morning
coffee and a bowl of cereal and I sat on the couch
feeling perfectly normal. At 8am I called a friend
who is a cardiologist and told him my symptoms and
we agreed to meet at his office at 10am. My friend's
office is in Ventura; normally a 45 minute drive
from my house. Half way to his office it hit me - no
mistaking it - I was having a full-blown heart
attack and it was a life-or-death situation. Every
minute that passed decreased my chances for
The pain was beyond
intense. Crushing is the only word that can
adequately explain what I was feeling. I lacked the
"typical" warning signs that you often hear about -
I had no pain in my arms, neck, jaw, or back... but
both my wrists and hands were numb and I was
sweating buckets and cold at the same time. In the
car my training in medicine and my 3 years of
working in a hospital that specialized in
cardiovascular medicine paid off; I knew to stay
I knew to NOT PANIC.
When you panic you pour adrenaline into your
bloodstream which makes your heart work harder. This
is the last thing you want when you are having a
heart attack. Heart attacks happen because your
heart is compromised and is unable to function
normally. Adding adrenaline to the situation is like
throwing gasoline on a fire. I kept telling myself
that I was going to be OK and I just needed to focus
and stay calm.
I made it to the hospital in
20 minutes. It took 17 minutes to get me into
the ER, determine with an EKG that I was having a
heart attack, and then prepped and ready for a
surgery in the
Cardiac Cath Lab. This was a
total of 37 minutes from onset until treatment.
Statistics show that heart attack sufferers who are
able to get treatment and into surgery in under 1
hour have a significantly greater chance for
are the film's from Jon's Cardiac Cath procedure.
On the left we see his heart during the heart
attack. His LAD (Left Anterior Descending)
coronary artery was 100% blocked. After
breaking through the blockage and inserting a small
platinum mesh cage called a "stent" to hold the
artery open, the right image shows Jon's heart with
100% of the blood flow restored to his LAD.
Once in the
Cath Lab it was immediately clear what I was dealing
with; a completely blocked
LAD (Left Anterior
Descending) Coronary Artery. AKA - "The Widowmaker". 60% of Widowmaker sufferers die
within the first 8 hours of the event -- another 30%
die sometime within the next month. Of the 10% who
survive - they almost always have some sort of
permanent heart damage that remains with them until
the end of their life. It is not surprising
that life expectancy for Widowmaker survivors is
The real danger of
the Widowmaker Heart Attack is that even if the
patient survives the initial blockage and event they
may not survive but a few hours or days after
because so much damage has been caused to their
heart it cannot recover. Moreover dead tissue is
dead tissue and it cannot remain inside your body.
If the tissue damage/death is significant enough the
heart has to be removed from your body - meaning you
will require a heart transplant. Some of this damage
can improve with time, exercise, and diet - major
lifestyle changes that are in the beginning very
risky themselves for you have to be very careful
when exercising with a damaged heart. The major risk
is a deadly arrhythmia where the damaged heart
muscle doesn't beat in sync with the healthy heart
muscle and the heart loses the ability to pump
After about an hour in surgery I had a small piece
of platinum placed in my LAD - a wire mesh called a
Stent - designed to hold the area of my artery with
the blockage open so it won't close back off again.
My surgeon came up to my room in
Critical Care) and he discussed something "odd" he
noticed during my cath.
First he had
immediately noticed that I didn't "look like the
typical heart attack patient". I have 16% body
fat and "Popeye legs". The Castelli cycling
socks were another obvious clue. I can't tell
you how happy those socks made me when after one hell
of a bad morning I looked down at my feet and saw those comfy socks.
During my cath my surgeon, Thomas Q. Kong Jr., M.D., F.A.C.C., had noticed that I had an abnormally large
right coronary artery and I had "collateral
branches" from my right artery over to the left side
of my heart. These remodeled branches (the
term for when your heart grows additional vascular
structures to support oxygen needs) kept enough
blood flowing to my heart tissue that when my LAD
(responsible for supplying 65% of the blood to your
heart) blocked off 100% I didn't die immediately as
many Widowmaker sufferers do.
My right coronary artery being so large with collateral branches
made perfect sense; like most CAD sufferers I'd
developed a narrowed LAD early in life and for the
past 20 or more years my daily cycling habit had
forced my heart to grow new artery pathways to
handle the constant stress I put it under and high
oxygen needs my exercise created. If I hadn't
been a fanatical cyclist I most likely wouldn't have
survived my heart attack and if I had I'd be living
with a damaged heart.
I spent a 3 days
in CCU (the cardiac intensive care unit) and another
3 days on the cardiac floor of the hospital before I
was allowed to come home. On my last day in CCU I
was given an echocardiogram test. It showed severe
"bruising" of my heart tissue. My heart was
functioning at a very low percentage - in the 30%
range of where a normal heart would be functioning.
My doctor was very frank - I - like other
Widowmaker survivors - would be dealing
with heart damage. Only time and recovery would
reveal how much damage I was looking at. It is
an incredibly sobering thought - at age 46 my days
of being active might be over.
Your heart never stops beating - so when does it
have a chance to heal? The answer is - between heart
beats. I was given medications to slow my heart rate
down significantly and I was given instructions to
not get my heart rate up.
I spent the next
month doing nothing. I'd get out of bed and walk
downstairs to the couch. I played a lot of guitar. I
read several books. I didn't do anything but rest.
And I stayed positive. I focused on the outcome I
desired - regardless of how improbable it might be.
I dug into research on the Widowmaker. I read
article after article. I never accepted that my life
was going to have to change in any significant way.
A month later I had a 2nd echocardiogram and
my cardiologist was astounded. It showed a normal
heart. He said there was no perceivable damage and
my heart was operating in the range - actually a
little better - than a normal heart in a male my
I hadn't dodged a bullet
- I'd dodged a missile while running through a field
of land mines <- His words.
given the go ahead to start slowly getting back to
my life. In January at my 3 month mark I was given
the full clearance to get back to riding and
training and I couldn't wait to get back on my
In the end I had done so many things right in
regards to the lifestyle choices I've made -
especially those in the past decade. It was after
moving to SoCal in 2007 that I started riding my
bike daily. I was attending college and I rode my
bike to my classes. School was 15 miles away from my
house so almost immediately I was riding 30 miles a
When I hurt my back in 2012 and needed
surgery - it was in the 6 months of physical therapy
that I discovered my back felt much better after 30
minutes on a stationary bike. Once I was cleared to
ride I started riding 7 days a week - this is how I
managed pain from a crushed L5-S1 disc and cracked
vertebrae. I never needed pain medications.
And now - post Widowmaker - cycling is not a fitness
choice for me. It's a complete lifestyle.
ride 7 days a week.
I have my life-long love
affair of cycling to thank for being 1 in who knows
how many - in surviving the notorious Widowmaker
Heart Attack with no discernible heart damage. The
reason I say "in who knows how many" - is that the
instances of Widowmaker survivors doing so with
minimal or zero heart damage are so rare that there
are no statistics on it. I can't find research which
supports any EXPECTATION
by medical professionals other than a Widowmaker
survivor is going to have heart damage.
I am alive and I have
zero residual heart damage because of my life-long
dedication to cycling.
I've started "Summit4CAD" to bring awareness to CAD
(Coronary Artery Disease) - the
#1 killer of human
beings world-wide. 31% of deaths world-wide are
attributed to CAD; that's approximately 9 million
people each year.
In the USA, 1 in 4 deaths each day is related to
CAD. CAD kills more people than cancer, car
accidents, and gun deaths combined in the United
States each year.
CAD is the leading cause of
early permanent disability in adults in the USA and
costs more than $130 billion each year in medical
costs and lost productivity.
The purpose of Summit4CAD is to bring prevention and
treatment awareness to those who may be at risk for
CAD and not even be aware... like myself.
I was the
last person who thought they had to worry about
having a potentially life ending, certainly
life-changing heart attack at age 46.
It's never too late to make changes to your
lifestyle and be a healthier you; I am living proof
that something as simple as riding a bicycle can
save your life. I have no doubt that I
survived what I have for a reason and I know that it
is to share my experience in the hopes that I can
spare someone else the trauma of what I've been