heart disease patient Reed Schreck and his wife

Cross country coach battles family history of heart disease

When it comes to heart disease, Reed Schreck has always known the deck is stacked against him.

His grandfather, uncle and father, Don, all died from heart disease. Because of the family history, Reed, a former sports reporter for the Rockford Register Star, has made sure to take extra care of himself – eating right, running and exercising has always been a regular staple in his life.

“I’ve never taken my heart health for granted,” he said.

Despite his healthy lifestyle, Reed couldn’t avoid his own heart issues, which started about 10 years ago. That’s when he began experiencing tightness in his chest during a run. Doctors discovered blockage to his heart, which required stents in 2007 and again 2008. Four years later, Reed was back in the operating room for triple bypass surgery.

Complete cardiac arrest

Then, in November 2016, Reed returned home from a long run when he was greeted by his wife, Deb, in the kitchen.

“She asked me how the run went and next thing I know I fell to the floor,” Reed recalls.

Deb immediately started CPR before calling 911. The ambulance rushed Reed to OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center.

Reed suffered a complete cardiac arrest. This is when an abnormal heart rhythm does not create normal heart pumping.

He had his body temperature decreased (hypothermia) and was in an induced coma to help the brain recover.  He spent time in critical care and was in the hospital for a week.  A pacemaker-like device that can shock the heart to normal rhythm, called a defibrillator, was implanted.

Reed does not recall events – including attending the state cross country meet in Peoria, the Cubs’ World Series win, the presidential election and his hospital stay, which is all common when a heart arrest occurs.

Reed was in good hands at OSF Saint Anthony, thanks to the OSF HealthCare Cardiovascular Institute which offers coordinated, integrated care and is supported by more than 65 physician experts, specializing in every aspect of cardiovascular care throughout OSF HealthCare.

OSF Cardiovascular Institute’s longstanding partnership at OSF Saint Anthony – a Truven 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospital in the nation – means you don’t need to travel outside of Rockford to receive advanced cardiovascular care.  The survival rate of out of hospital cardiac arrest is reported to be 6 to 11 percent.  Reed is definitely a survivor.

“I couldn’t have received any better care,” he said. “The care I received following the cardiac arrest was extremely critical. I’m very appreciative of OSF, my doctors and the entire staff.”

Back on his feet

These days, Reed is back on his feet and feeling strong. Now retired, he substitute teaches 2-3 days a week in the Rockford Public Schools and also coaches girls and boys cross country at East High School. “I relate well to the kids,” he said. “It’s satisfying to see the students get excited about their accomplishments. It’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

Reed has received a clean bill of health from his physician and he’s resumed regular work outs at the gym, and still plays competitive softball at the age of 66. He’s also been given him the green light to return to running – albeit with a partner.

“All I can do is listen to my doctor, continue to exercise, eat healthy and take my medicine,” he said. “They say only one in 20 people survives cardiac arrest. I definitely feel lucky.”

Last Updated: April 22, 2022

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About Author: Paul Arco

Paul Arco is a community relations coordinator at OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center.

He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Marquette University in Milwaukee, and has written for several newspapers and magazines throughout his career before joining OSF HealthCare in 2016.

In his free time, Paul enjoys reading and spending time with his wife, three children and two grandchildren.

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Categories: Heart Health, Patient Stories