Our Patients. Their Stories. Joe Shattie

I hope to make more people aware of the dangers of not taking care of your body and your health.

Joe Shattie

Joe Shattie of White River Junction, Vermont, is living his mission. After surviving three separate cardiac arrests over 25 years, he is raising awareness about the importance of taking care of your health—and never taking it for granted.

“I hope to make more people aware of the dangers of not taking care of your body and your health. There is such a great need to spend time—just like you do with your children, or your wife—on your health,” he says. “Along with exercise and eating right, today’s technology offers many valuable tools. The more you access online resources for research and your electronic records, lab results and online communication with your providers—like through myD-H—the easier it becomes to proactively manage your healthcare.”

Joe’s journey

Like many people, Shattie and his wife, Cheryl, were busy juggling careers and raising their family when at 40, he suffered his first heart attack. A smoker with a hectic schedule, he wasn’t focusing on his health. When he felt the classic symptoms of back and chest pain, along with nausea, Cheryl drove him to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) where he was treated with a stent procedure—the placement of a small mesh tube in an artery to keep it open to maintain blood flow.    

That was a wake-up call for the Shatties. They started exercising regularly and followed a healthier diet. Five years later, Shattie was refereeing a summer league hockey game at Dartmouth College and began sweating profusely. Again, Cheryl drove him to DHMC. This time he needed open-heart, or bypass, surgery to redirect blood flow around a blocked artery to keep his heart functioning.

“Because of a combination of genetics and lifestyle, Joe’s disease was churning in the background,” says Bruce W. Andrus, MD, MS, director of Clinical Cardiology, Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H). “And in that situation, bypass surgery is going to provide a more complete, more durable means of restoring blood flow to the heart muscle.”   

A third chance

Twenty years passed before Shattie experienced his third—and most traumatic—cardiac arrest. On a hot August day, he and Cheryl were leaving home in separate cars when fate intervened. Cheryl, leaving first, returned home because she had forgotten her cell phone. Feeling dizzy, Shattie got out of his car and collapsed right in front of her.

“What he suffered was an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, and this is generally due to an electrical disturbance of the heart. If there’s no one around, the mortality is 100 percent,” explains Andrus. “It’s tremendous good luck that his wife came back to get her cell phone and to start CPR—that saved his life.”

After arriving at DHMC by ambulance, Shattie had emergency surgery and received a Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy Defibrillator. This advanced cardiac device is a pacemaker that can regulate both ventricles of the heart. It also features a built-in defibrillator to shock the heart if it goes into cardiac arrest or set its pace if the heart rate drops.

Today, this electronic device is providing Shattie and his family peace of mind. They are grateful for the care and expertise D-H has provided over the years. 

“I’m very impressed with D-H and the Cardiac and Vascular units,” Shattie shares. “Life is precious. I got a third chance. Most people don’t get that opportunity.”

To learn more about the D-H Heart & Vascular Center, visit https://www.dartmouth-hitchcock.org/heart-vascular.