Reaching New Heights After Open Heart Surgery
Meet John. After hitting the trails with his family on vacation, he started to feel some tightness in his chest. See how our team at Cooper and Inspira Cardiac Care got him back to what he lives for after four critical blockages in his heart.
It all started on a family hiking trip.
It was a few minutes up the mountain when John felt a pain in his chest. “It was a kind of burning sensation you might feel if you are outside. So, I didn’t think much of it.” Later that same trip, John experienced the feeling again, this time while carrying his youngest grandchild on his shoulders. “I said something to my wife within earshot of my daughter who’s a nurse practitioner, and her comment was, ‘Well, if you feel something when you’re not doing an activity, you should see a doctor,’ but that was it. It was a blowoff conversation. I wasn’t concerned because I thought I was just out of shape.”
All heart attacks are serious, but a STEMI is the most dangerous of all.
While the vacation ended, the unusual feelings continued.
“It wasn’t anything like the burning sensation, it was more of a tightness in and around the heart area. And it was happening almost every time I cut the grass,” he recalls. When John mentioned it to his daughter, she immediately told him to go see a doctor. “But I didn’t. I did not tell people to what extent, or to what frequency I was having events. I was in denial.”
Then one fall November day while mowing his lawn, John had his most extreme episode yet. Unable to complete the grass this time, he called Dr. Thomas Moccia, clinical non-invasive cardiologist at Inspira Cardiology and member of Cooper and Inspira Cardiac Care.
“The next thing I know, Dr. Rosenbloom’s coming in to show me that I have four blockages.” – John
After Inspira cardiologist Dr. Moccia recognized the issue, Cooper University Health Care cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Rosenbloom was scheduled to perform his coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) the following day. “It was a total coordination of care,” Dr. Rosenbloom says. “If we see a patient in the cath lab here, or anywhere else, that needs open heart surgery right away, it’s all hands on deck. We get it done.”
John’s surgery was a success, restoring blood flow to his heart and all the major blocked vessels.
Afterward, John was admitted to the Cardiac ICU where he remembers being tended to by the nurses and staff throughout his recovery. “I got the A team. I felt very comfortable that I was being taken care of. I didn’t have to worry about that.” After recovery, John went on to attend inpatient rehab. While there, Dr. Moccia received progress reports and helped John reach his goal of getting back to all the physical things he did prior to surgery.
Both of John’s doctors agree, his prognosis is excellent. “He has no damage to his heart and has successfully completed his cardiac rehab. I hope to follow up with him for many, many years in the office and get him back to all his usual activities,” Dr. Moccia says hopefully.
“People talk about widowmakers. He had widowmaker times two.” – Dr. Michael Rosenbloom, Chief of Cardiac Surgery
John’s hard work in cardiac rehab paid off.
He was scheduled to be released from the hospital a few days before Thanksgiving, making it the perfect reunion for his five children and nine grandchildren. He remembers, “I got out of the hospital the week before Thanksgiving and all our kids were coming back. And the littlest one wanted me to pick him up, like I always do.”
While John might have been unable to lift his grandson that first day home, he is now once again able to do that, along with all the things he lives for – like spending time with his wife, doing more traveling, and mentoring his grandkids.
Cooper and Inspira Cardiac Care gave John a second chance.
Looking back, John credits his team of doctors for getting him back to the life he loves. “Cooper and Inspira gave me a second chance. They allowed me to continue to live. So yeah, I would have to say that yours truly was extremely lucky.”
CABG surgery got John back on his feet and his grandson back on his shoulders.