Kenai Rep. Ron Gillham on the mend after heart attack

A man talks to a crowd
Kenai Rep. Gillham at a town hall in Soldotna last April. (Sabine Poux/KDLL)

Rep. Ron Gillham, R-Kenai, is back in Juneau after he was hospitalized for a heart attack last week. The Soldotna Republican said Tuesday he was released from Providence Alaska Medical Center Saturday and is ready to get back to work.

As first reported by KSRM, the heart attack kept him Gillham from the Alaska State Capitol for several days as he was treated in Juneau and Anchorage.

Gillham said his symptoms began after he and his wife got dinner with friends in Juneau. When he got in bed around 10 p.m. Wednesday, he felt a pain in his chest. He first thought it was indigestion.

But it continued late into the night. Then he started sweating profusely.

“And all of a sudden, it is like somebody dumped a bucket of water on me,” he said.

His wife suggested they go to the hospital around 1 a.m. and he checked into the emergency room at Bartlett Regional Hospital. He said a doctor found a vessel was clogged at the bottom of his heart.

“They scheduled a medevac to Providence,” Gillham said. “And due to the weather, they couldn’t get me out. So I was in the Bartlett ER for about four hours.”

In the meantime, he was given medication to unclog the vessel, which he said worked as it was supposed to. When Gillham finally did get to Anchorage Thursday morning, doctors put a stent in his heart to help keep the vessel open.

Gillham said he was released with no restrictions Saturday and flew back to Juneau this week. He said he’s grateful for the doctors at Bartlett and Providence for taking good care of him. And he said he’s ready to move forward.

“I’ve never taken medication any stronger than an Ibuprofen,” Gillham said. “I just don’t like it. But from now on, for the rest of my life, I’ll have to take a couple different medications.”

He said his doctor told him genetic factors were at play in his case. He said anyone with a history of heart issues in their family should get checked out by their doctor.

[Sign up for Alaska Public Media’s daily newsletter to get our top stories delivered to your inbox.]

Previous articleAfter winning, Juneau attorney reflects on her years-long First Amendment case
Next articleFirearms expert describes ‘extensively damaged’ bullet in murder of Sophie Sergie