Pete Wernick suffers heart attack, recovering well

Dr. Banjo needed the professional services of the medical doctors last week.

Noted banjo player, Hot Rize co-founder, and long time IBMA leader Pete Wernick suffered a heart attack this past Tuesday (February 1) at home in the early morning hours. Fortunately, he is doing quite well, and while still in the ICU, his doctors are very pleased with his condition, and he should be home soon.

According to Pete, he reported feeling a sort of indigestion in his chest, but when pain started radiating into his arms, he took it quite seriously and roused his doctor. He directed Pete to get to the ER right away, which he did. A scan found one artery completely blocked but angioplasty was successful and, with three stents, blood flow to his heart was restored. Doctors are assessing the damage to two affected ventricles, and it is expected that a defibrillator will be installed.

With the other two arteries largely blocked, bypass surgery is on the table, but Pete’s doctors want him to recover from this episode before contemplating that. Cardiac rehab is also in his immediate future.

Pete’s short term plans include taking February and March off from any active work and recovering his strength as best he can. At age 75, he still has many good years to look forward to, and more music to be played and taught.

In a letter to friends he shared the sense of harsh reality this situation presents, but with the optimism he has always conveyed.

“I’m sure you can all imagine what an emotional experience this has been. Knowing that I will be wearing a defibrillator for the rest of my life is somewhat unsettling, but I’m doing a fair amount of adjusting and keeping my mental health in good shape as well as I can. 

As my friend Tim wrote in a Hot Rize song, ‘I know I’m lucky to have my health and home, I don’t have much but I won’t be alone, hard-pressed we can find a way.'”

Get well soon, Doc!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.