Heart check-up program saves Hills firefighter’s life

A heart health check-up offered to Farmington Hills Police and Fire Departments, and Farmington Public Safety officers, resulted in life-saving coronary bypass surgery for one Hills firefighter.

Over 50 emergency workers received cardiac health screening tests through Hearts for Heroes, created by Justin Trivax, M.D. and Herman Kado, M.D., Farmington Hills interventional cardiologists. Trivax’s high school daughters Tessa and Sienna learned about a local police officer who suffered a fatal heart attack while on duty and asked their dad to help.

Maria Taylor David Delind Johnna Balk Farmington City Council
Farmington Hills fire truck
Dr. Justin Trivax and daughters Tessa and Sienna took a ride in the bucket atop the Farmington Hills Fire Department ladder truck with Fire Sergeant Dan Rickard. (City of Farmington Hills)

The Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring tests administered in late December 2020 showed the firefighter had significant cardiac disease. Surgery took place during the last week of April.

“If his heart disease had gone undetected, there was a very real possibility that a serious or even fatal cardiac event could have occurred while he was on duty,” Farmington Hills Fire Chief Jon Unruh said in a press release. “This local firefighter credits the Hearts for Heroes program with saving his life and avoiding a tragedy for himself and his family.”

To show their gratitude, local police officers and firefighters donated $5,000 to Hearts for Heroes on behalf of the Farmington Hills Police and Fire Benevolent Association.

“We wanted to show our appreciation and also to pay it forward,” said Unruh, who serves as association vice president.

Trivax said that helping others in extreme conditions may provoke heart attacks, abnormal heart rhythms, or sudden cardiac death in emergency workers with undiagnosed heart disease.

“We can prevent all of these events with identification of coronary artery disease with a simple heart scan followed by appropriate treatment,” he said. “Our mission is to offer this service to all Police and Fire Departments to ensure the safety of our local heroes — our police officers and firefighters.”

Hearts for Heroes will use the local donation to screen more Farmington area police and firefighters, as well as those in other communities.

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