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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
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A Health Alert for Men and Women

This piece is about an experience I had on October 25, 2010. And it is something every reader should take into account. Fortunately, because of alert physicians, I am back to better than normal. Let me explain.

Each year, for the last several years, I have routinely had an Echo 6 Stress Test in Dr. Vincent Madonia’s office because of slightly elevated blood pressure. The results of my October test showed a question about one of my coronary arteries. My doctor had me take a Nuclear Stress Test to check out the abnormality. That test included a treadmill and the ingestion of a nuclear liquid.

The results were not good. One artery was totally blocked and three were partially blocked. It was suggested that I proceed immediately to the Emergency Room of Winthrop University Hospital. That was on the afternoon of October 25. At noon, on the next day, I had quadruple bypass open heart surgery.

Fortunately, because I was in good physical shape before the surgery, I went home after only three days in the hospital. I owe my physical condition to the fact that my wife and I have walked some three miles almost every day for the last 14 years.

The interesting thing about this incident is that my cholesterol had been normal throughout the testing by my doctor. Normally, high cholesterol levels lead to blockages and heart attacks. While I will not go into the details of how the surgery is generally performed, it is sufficient to say that it is complicated and requires high levels of proficiency. Fortunately, Dr. Scott Schubach performed the surgery. Afterwards, I found myself in recovery with my wife and son by my side.

My hospital stay was only three days, and I went home to recover. At the hospital, the care was great, and I received materials about what to do as I recovered from the surgery. First, I had to do a series of physical exercises on a regular basis during the recovery period of some 10 weeks. In addition to the exercising, walking was strongly recommended. And that walking was to regularly build up over the 10-week period. For me, it was great to get back to walking even though it was, in the beginning, at home through a hallway, living room, dining room and kitchen. Soon, however, subject to the weather, we were able to walk outside along part of our path over the last 14 years.

At the heart of this column is following the advice of your physician and doing every preventative test you are asked to take. It was hard for me to believe that I needed the surgery described in this column after leading such an active life. I had no idea that quadruple bypass surgery was about to happen. Again, because of alert physicians, sophisticated testing and a great surgeon, I look forward to an active life for many years.


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