NEW HYDE PARK, Long Island (WABC) -- Kevin Kapela, an active grandfather living on Long Island, saved his own life while suffering a "widow maker" heart attack.
Kapela, 64, went golfing in Roslyn at the Christopher Morley Golf course on March 21. He says that he started to endure excruciating chest pains while alone on the course.
"As soon as I swung, I felt lightning bolts down my arms," Kapela said.
In the midst of the pain, Kapela drove himself to North Shore Hospital, where he was rushed to cardiologists.
His doctors say that a new cardiac oxygen treatment was a game changer in saving Kapela's life. The 64-year-old had no idea his heart blockage was the worst possible kind and nearly fatal.
Doctors implanted two stents. The oxygen therapy used Kapela's blood to heal his heart muscle, along with millions of microvessels in the heart.
"Giving all this oxygen, because in that moment of time, the most important thing is opening up all those microscopic arteries," Northwell Cardiologist Dr. Gaurav Rao said.
Dr. Guarav Rao said Mr. Kapela's heart function improved from 25% to nearly 50% in 48 hours. He was discharged just two days after his heart attack.
Kapela became one of the first North Shore Hospital patients to get supersaturated oxygen therapy. The Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital at North Shore Hospital is the only place in the state to even offer this novel treatment.
Officials say the FDA-approved TherOx treatment helps prevent irreversible damage to the heart muscle and decreases the risk of long-term heart failure. Doctors say this therapy only takes an hour.
A month into his recovery, Kapela, who describes himself as energetic and lively, is speaking about this harrowing experience. He is grateful to his medical team for this health triumph.
"Unfortunately, a lot of patients who have this widowmaker lesion have sudden death outside the hospital never make it," Northshore University Hospital Cardiology Chief Dr. Rajiv Jauhar said. "We're very lucky that Kevin is here today, but I do not recommend driving to the hospital when you're having a heart attack."
Doctors say Kapela's zest for life is palpable. Before his heart attack, Kapela enjoyed playing pickleball, walking two miles a day, and playing with his grandkids.
Despite the last month of recovery, Kapela is back to traveling and exercising regularly.
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News