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Lessons in Heart Disease

March 9, 2018 11 a.m.

  • Frank Flood

Frank Flood discovers how different treatment for heart disease is now; it’s all done right here at home.

Frank Flood was caught off guard when he suffered a heart attack 13 years ago.

“I didn’t experience the typical symptoms,” he said. “It was just a pain in front of my ears – nothing terrible.” His wife, Jo-Anne, convinced him to have the pain checked out, so he drove himself to the Sarah Bush Lincoln Emergency Department.

“I was laying down with my head tilted down and my feet up in the air, and I felt this burning sensation – like I was baking,” Frank recalled. He learned that he had suffered a full-blown heart attack. He was transferred by ambulance to St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, where doctors placed two stents to open blockages. A month later, Frank received a third stent to improve blood flow to his heart.

Thankfully, there was minimal damage to Frank’s heart, but the event was a huge wake-up call for him. Frank went through cardiac rehabilitation at Sarah Bush Lincoln’s Monitored Exercise Testing Services (METS) and learned that he needed to pay particularly close attention to his health because he also has diabetes. “I’m at a much greater risk for having heart problems because of the diabetes,” he said. Frank also learned that people with diabetes are more prone to suffer silent heart attacks, which might explain why his symptoms were subtle.

Frank now visits Prairie Heart Institute Cardiologist Thomas Cahill, MD, who practices at Sarah Bush Lincoln. Frank is thrilled that he no longer has to travel far to receive state-of-the-art care, thanks to Sarah Bush Lincoln’s expanded cardiac services and partnership with Prairie Heart Institute. He was especially grateful for this partnership in August, when Dr. Cahill discovered some abnormalities during a routine exercise stress test and recommended a cardiac catheterization for further evaluation.

“The big thing for me was not being sent somewhere else for treatment. This time I was able stay here,” he said. “The nurses in the cath lab are wonderful. They were very thorough in explaining what they were doing and the purpose.” Prairie Heart Institute Interventional Cardiologist Amit Dande, MD, FACC, FSCAI, performed the cardiac catheterization using the radial artery in Frank’s wrist. During the procedure, two coronary arteries showed significant blockages, so Dr. Dande opened the clogged arteries to restore proper blood flow to the heart. He also placed two stents to ensure that the arteries would stay open.

“I am amazed by how they did it. It’s almost shocking that there was no more to it than that. I went in at 8 a.m., and I was home by lunch,” he said. Doctors had previously gained access through an artery in his groin, but going through the wrist is an additional treatment option that is more comfortable for people, safer and has fewer bleeding complications, according to Dr. Dande.

Frank once again returned to METS for cardiac rehabilitation. “I can tell that it strengthened me,” he said. “I feel better and my legs are stronger. I’ve been trying to exercise more at home, as well.”

Frank makes his health a priority so he can enjoy the things he loves, like hunting, fishing and spending time with family. Frank graduated from METS in November, but he continues to exercise daily on a stationary bike at home. Now retired, he enjoys serving as a master Illinois hunter safety education instructor in Cumberland County, which he has done for 20 years. “It’s been a successful program and I enjoy being out in the woods,” the 69-year-old Greenup man said.

Frank and Jo-Anne, now married 50 years, have changed their eating habits to stay healthy. “We don’t eat as much fried food, and we eat more fruits and vegetables. It’s a balancing act to control the blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, but if you keep all those things in line, you do feel better,” he said.

For more information about The Heart Center, call 217-238-4960 or to www.sarahbush.org.

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