First Encounter

When 64-year-old Bruce Marquardt stopped at the Escondido Senior Center last summer and took advantage of Palomar Health’s free blood pressure screening event, he wasn’t at all concerned about his health. He’s an athlete who trains in martial arts and Judo, plays competitive ping pong and watches what he eats. But he credits that testing with ultimately saving his life. Community health nurse educator Luanne Arangio-Law found his blood pressure was high.

“She wrote down my numbers and told me to go see my doctor right away,” says Bruce. “I put the paper in my pocket and forgot about it.” Later that night while playing a in a ping pong tournament, Bruce struggled to breathe. “I knew something was wrong, but I pushed through it,” he explains.

The next day Bruce went to an urgent care clinic and the doctor told him to go to the emergency room right away. But he didn’t go.

Two days later, on the way to his martial arts training, Bruce finally went to the emergency department at Palomar Medical Center with chest pains. Less than an hour later, he was in surgery. He had suffered a heart attack.

“My doctor told me that if I had gone to my training rather than the ED I would have died,” says Bruce.

“I didn’t take (Arangio-Law’s) advice right away,” he acknowledges, “but without that check-up, I probably wouldn’t have gone to the emergency room until I was incapable of taking myself.”

Today, Bruce considers himself a lucky athlete. He sees his doctor regularly, watches his blood pressure and is back at the ping pong table.

“This isn’t the first time our free screenings have saved a life,” says Arrangio-Law. “The Marquardt family could have lost a son, husband, father. I’m thankful we were able to play a part in preventing that.”