Symptoms ER doctor urges people never to ignore | Ascension

Symptoms ER doctor urges people never to ignore

For months, Alan Mankoff, 66, explained away the symptoms he was experiencing: Throbbing pain in his leg? His sciatica was flaring up, he reasoned. Fatigue? He was tired and old. Shortness of breath? He needed to take it easy.

His wife, Patti, repeatedly urged him to see a doctor. “Having no medical issues and being stubborn, I neglected the signs,” he said.

When Mankoff couldn’t get out of bed for two days, Patti sensed something wasn’t right and drove him to Ascension Sacred Heart Freestanding ER in Navarre. 

A CT scan revealed blood clots in Mankoff’s lungs (pulmonary embolism) that were causing difficulty breathing. Just like a heart attack, time is of the essence, and an untreated pulmonary embolism can be deadly. With no time to spare, Mankoff was life-flighted to Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola, where an interventional cardiologist successfully removed the blood clots.

Approximately 600,000 people in the U.S. have a pulmonary embolism each year and more than 10 percent of them die from it. Pulmonary embolism occurs equally in men and women and doubles for each 10 years after age 60.

Dr. Laura Garcia, medical director of Ascension Sacred Heart Freestanding ERs in Pensacola and Navarre, said PE is a blood clot that originates in a large vein, typically in the leg, that then travels into the lungs. 

“While symptoms of PE can vary from mild to severe, they include difficulty breathing, cough that can sometimes be accompanied by blood, chest pain especially with deep inspiration, and can progress to shock and/or cardiac arrest,” she explained. "These symptoms should never be ignored."

Mankoff said the quick actions of his wife and the care team saved his life. “The doctors were amazing. Every doctor that I have talked to since has told me that they’re surprised I made it!” 

The moral of the story: “Listen to your body…and your wife,” he said.

Ascension Sacred Heart has two Freestanding ERs conveniently located in Pensacola and Navarre. For more information about emergency care that is close to home visit