Beating the Odds
My creative spirit has been focused these past few weeks on a beating heart, my Dad’s. Like many retired “Mainahs”, my father travels and lives in Florida over the frigid Maine winter months. This year is his seventh year since he bought a house on a golf course exactly, fifteen minutes from Ft. Myers Jet Blue Stadium where the Red Sox spend their spring training. At 83 my father is a tough guy who has a gym membership and walks on the tread mill and lifts weights 5 out of 7 days a week. This year was no different until four weeks ago. I was visiting him and he experienced chest pains after dinner. I dialed 911. Yes, my Dad had a heart attack in Florida.
I discovered recently a dear friend also had a heart attack. He thought it was indigestion. And, I learned about several other friends who experienced heart issues. Time to bring the heart health issue to the forefront. My paintings have a new focus relating to hearts, health care and family. Let’s spread heart information, fast. Please share this article with as many as possible!
Indigestion or Heart attack?
After having witnessed first hand when someone is having a heart attack, I know not to wait to call for medical help. Plus, people are having heart issues at relatively young ages, 50’s and up. You may think you are fit, like my Dad, but feeling chest pressure that doesn’t go away after a few seconds is NOT indigestion, take it from me! Here are warning facts from American Heart Association:
Mending a Heart
Being away from Maine and being sick is scary enough, then adding treatment choices can be overwhelming. My advice is to include all close family members into the conversation as soon as possible. Everyone needs an advocate when they aren’t feeling well, especially during an emergency. Also, for those people who spend half their lives in a different state, they need to make health care connections upon relocation so they have a primary care physician who knows them. Luckily, my dad had his Florida doctors in place.
Do you know the difference between heart specialists? Cardiologist is a doctor who treats patients for heart disorders related to blood vessels and blockages. An interventional cardiologist/vascular surgeon is one who performs minimal invasive surgery that treats conditions related to the veins and arteries. They treat people with coronary artery disease, heart valve disease, peripheral vascular disease. According to Brigham and Women’s Medical Hospital, part of Harvard’s Medical School, IC’s perform such procedures as angioplasty and stenting (inserting a balloon into the artery to increase blood flow, and implanting mesh balloon in the artery to keep it open), cartoid artery stenting, embolic protection,(using filters to catch loose pieces of arterial plaque), atherectomy, ( small blades cut plaque off arterial walls), and mitral valve repair.
Cardiac thoracic surgeon are the people who specialize in heart surgery, such as: coronary bypass graft, or complete heart transplants and surgery to replace faulty heart valves. A cardiac electrophysiologist is a specialist who treats heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias) and can implant pacemakers and ICDs (implantable cardioverter-defibrillators). My Dad had a great interventional cardiologist in Ft. Myers who performed a heart catherization to find the blockages and inserted a balloon heart pump as a temporary solution. Believe me, I was confused by all the heart medical jargon and learned we had options.
However, be aware that some hospitals handle high risk patients and some do not. In Florida, Tampa General Hospital is affiliated with University of Southern Florida and treats difficult high risk cases of many types. Since, my father was categorized as high risk, due to his age, he was “life- flight” transported by helicopter to Tampa General. Here in Bangor, Northeast Cardiology Associates has cardiologists that perform all available treatments except open heart surgery or heart transplants. Those heart procedures are handled by Eastern Maine Cardiothoracic Surgery affiliated with EMMC: #207-973-5293. My dad has a cardiologist at Northeast cardiology while living here in the summer. Unfortunately, Bangor was too far for him to be transported this time. But while I was a an air traffic controller here at Bangor ATCT Tower, I worked with the superb pilots of Life Flight of Maine at Bangor’s EMMC. You can visit their website at www.lifeflightmaine.org
A well respected and experienced cardiologist at Tampa General Hospital agreed to perform angioplasty procedure on my father and my whole family is indebted to Dr. Matar, aka. “The Arabian Knight”. The decisive action of Dr. Brian Arcement and the referral from Dr. George Comas at Ft. Myers Health Park Hospital saved my dad’s heart. We also, thank the top notch nurses in the ICU Gulf Coast Medical Center, and nurses at Open Heart ICU at Health Park Hospital.
After a Heart Attack
The American Heart Association recommends cardiac rehabilitation and that’s exactly what my Dad is doing now.
Research Heart Hospitals and Eat Healthy
As I was sitting in the waiting room at one of the three hospitals that I visited while in Florida, I noticed the May 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
Great statistics on U.S. heart hospitals and guide to living a heart healthy lifestyle. There’s even a report regarding life flight helicopters and insurance coverage. I urge everyone to pass along my blog and treat your heart with love. Possibly, since this is May, in celebration of your heart, you could make this a “meatless May”. Try vegetarian diet as way to bring in spring, your heart will thank you! For more information visit www.heart.org American Heart Association’s website, and information on cardiologists in the Bangor area visit www.emmc.org