'Broken Heart' Sends Tulsa Wife To Hospital

Wednesday, May 2nd 2012, 5:33 pm
By: News On 6

When a Tulsa man had a heart attack on the side of the road, a Good Samaritan pulled over to help. But the event was so stressful on the original man's wife; she had a heart attack too on the very same day.

It's a story of heartbreak and heroism. In fact, doctors actually have a term for the dual heart attacks. They call it broken heart syndrome.

"I had pain all over in my chest and my arms and I felt funny in the head," Ray Smith said.

Ray Smith knew he didn't feel well. But he doesn't remember much else after he pulled over on Saturday morning.

But Roger Ellis does.

"I looked over, but when I passed the truck, he was slumped over," Ellis said.

Ellis pulled over to help and shouted for someone else to call 911, while he called the last number dialed into Smith's cell phone. It was Smith's son. It turned out his father was having a heart attack.

The family called Smith's wife and told her to come to the hospital.

"My heart just sank," Ray's wife Linda Smith said.

Linda Smith spent the day in the emergency room, concerned with the well being of her husband of 29 years.

"I had started getting tightness in my chest," Linda said.

The symptoms were subtle.

"The doctor in the emergency room was just dumbfounded," Linda said. "‘Both of you had a heart attack today?'"

The cardiologist told them it's rare but broken heart syndrome is a real condition. The official term, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, is "stress cardiomyopathy."

It's brought on by intense or emotional physical stress. Linda says it was brought on by the thoughts of losing her husband.

The two are receiving care in side by side rooms. Now that they are on their way to recovery, they can gently laugh about the situation.

"If I had a heart attack, would you have had a broken heart over me?" Linda asked her husband. "It wouldn't take half that much for me to have a heart attack," Ray replied "I'd just die."

The couple says they are looking forward to meeting the man who helped save Ray's life. They call him a hero.

Roger Ellis says he was just in the right place at the right time and did what everyone should do when someone needs help.