Sevastian Gurule

“My husband is a totally different person — physically, mentally and emotionally. [Sevastian] has consciously made an effort to recognize stress and prioritize a healthier lifestyle. Dr. Simard says ‘He’s in it to win it.’”

After a 26-year career with the City of Santa Fe, Sevastian Gurulé had been considering retirement. Anticipating the change in income and benefits retirement would bring, he wanted to be sure he was in good physical condition before making his decision. He visited his doctor for a complete physical workup, for which his exam and lab work checked out as “normal.”

Despite his clean bill of health, Sevastian was unsettled. Just ve months earlier, his cousin had collapsed from a heart attack at a family reunion. Fortunately, he survived, but now, Sevastian found himself wanting to be absolutely certain of his risk for a heart attack. After all, his cousin was only two years older than he, and both were still in their forties.

Sevastian’s doctor ordered a cardiac stress test – the standard test for measuring cardiovascular health under exertion. The test was scheduled at CHRISTUS St. Vincent Heart & Vascular Center.

On February 8, 2017, Sevastian arrived at the Heart & Vascular Center, where he was prepped for the exam. Twelve leads from an electrocardiogram (EKG) unit were placed on different areas of his chest. The EKG would monitor electrical waves travelling through his heart with each beat. As he walked on a treadmill, the impulses would be recorded. Any irregularities in the impulses would indicate that parts of his heart might be too large or overworked.

After 12 full minutes on the treadmill — the duration of the test — there was no physical indication of dysfunction, but before the attending nurse could shut off the treadmill, Sevastian suddenly collapsed.

“It was just after lunchtime and the waiting room was fairly quiet,” says Sevastian’s wife, Elva Gurulé. “I heard a loud thump that struck me as unusual, and I got up and walked in that direction. I heard a nurse yell, ‘Call 911!’ When I got to the testing room, Sevastian was face down on the floor next to the treadmill. He was unconscious and twitching with burns on his forearm, shoulder and side from hitting the treadmill while it was running. He was still connected to the EKG.”

Marcellin Simard, M.D., Sevastian’s cardiologist, was in the clinic and arrived quickly to the scene.

“Dr. Simard immediately began directing his care,” Elva says. “He was calling out directions to nurses as he studied the readout from the EKG.”

Sevastian had experienced a ventricular fibrillation. His heart was quivering instead of pumping blood. Medical staff immediately began CPR. He was shocked twice with a defibrillator and within minutes was transported by ambulance to CHRISTUS St. Vincent for emergency surgery.

In surgery, Dr. Simard placed two stents — tiny mesh tubes that prop open arteries to restore blood ow — in Sevastian’s circumflex artery. After three days in critical care and two days in progressive care, he was discharged.

Sevastian Gurulé with his wife, Elva, and daughter, Maria-Bonita