Firefighter’s life saved by annual physical

Dennis Dorrance has been a firefighter for more than 25 years.

Glendale firefighter Dennis Dorrance was experiencing a shortness of breath and fatigue.

His doctor said he had asthma.

“My allergies were unbelievable,” said Dorrance, who’s been a firefighter for 25 years. “I was having sinus infections on and off; three or four a year. They did allergy testing and put me through testing for sleep apnea. My shortness of breath wasn’t bad enough for a C-PAP.”

The asthma medications cost $300 a month. By the end of 2015, the problems worsened.

He was convinced he had dementia because he was forgetting things.

His  coworkers even questioned his state. Dorrance was pale and withdrawn.

“The guys on the truck were saying, ‘Dennis, something’s wrong with you. You’re getting worse,’” Dorrance recalled.

While at his annual routine physical at the Glendale Fire Department Health Center, the staff noticed cardiac abnormalities. They referred him to a cardiologist.

He was sent to Biltmore Cardiology for a cardiac consult and received a Coronary Computed Tomography Angiogram scan, where more than 30% stenosis was detected. His physician then ordered the noninvasive HeartFlow Analysis, which showed a significant coronary blockage.

Within minutes of the diagnosis, Dorrance’s cardiologist scheduled him for a cardiac procedure. He was barely able to walk into the hospital without feeling short of breath, and by the time he left he felt like a new man.  

A couple of hours later, Dorrance had a new lease on life. If it weren’t for the detection through the health center Dorrance may not have had such a favorable outcome.

His left anterior descending artery was 86% blocked. That is the location of widowmaker heart attacks. More than 780,000 people die from this annually, he said.

“The first sign is sudden cardiac death,” said Dorrance, 58.

“I dodged a bullet big time. I don’t know why I was spared. HeartFlow is the end all, cure all for firefighters.”