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Emergency Quadruple Bypass Saves 48-Year-Old

One night, 48-year-old Andrew Silverman had difficulty breathing, but he thought it was just the result of a spicy dinner. When he woke the next morning, he still didn't feel well, so he decided to see his doctor. What he initially thought was heartburn turned out to be something much more serious.

Andrew's primary care physician ordered an angiogram, which showed calcification in all of the vessels leading to his heart. His doctor wanted to wait a month to address it, but a friend urged him to schedule an appointment right away with Adam Splaver, MD, a cardiologist with Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute at Memorial Regional Hospital.

"When Dr. Splaver saw the angiogram report, he immediately ordered a cardiac catherization," Andrew says.

The test revealed 99.9 percent blockage in all vessels, and Dr. Splaver scheduled an emergency quadruple bypass for the next day. A successful attorney who retired in his 30s, Andrew had no previous warning signs of heart problems.

"I had no pain in my arms or any of the other typical signs," says Andrew, who has a family history of heart disease but considered himself healthy. "I had never been to a hospital. I ate my share of pizza, but I also ate fish."

Today, the father of three teenage boys is recovering well, doing rehabilitation and getting back to normal. Thanks to the surgical skill of Michael Cortelli, Chief of Adult Cardiac Surgery, he has just two minor reminders of a major operation – a tiny scar on his leg at the blood vessel graft site, and a 5-inch scar on his chest.

"Dr. Cortelli is an artist," Andrew says. "You would not believe how small a scar I have. For what I went through, it was as good as it can get."

He also says he has not been in any pain since the surgery. After passing a stress test, he was cleared for rehabilitation three days a week at Memorial Hospital West. In the beginning, he exercised on a treadmill before advancing to a bike. He recently started strength training and walks up to two miles a day.

"The cardiologist and surgeon told me it would take about 5 or 6 months to get back to normal," he says. I'm working hard. I'm one of the youngest cardiac rehabilitation patients at West. I'm working it to the point they have to tell me to slow down."

A self-described "meat-and-potatoes guy," Andrew has lost about 25 pounds – back to his high school weight – eats more nutritious food, and plans to stay fit.

"I do not want to go through this again," he says.

Most of all, Andrew is glad he went to Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute in time.

"So many people find out about their problem after a heart attack or stroke," he says. "My experience has been nothing short of awesome. I think you guys saved my life."

Because of his experience, Andrew has a word of advice: "I recommend that everyone at the age of 40 go to a cardiologist, even if they're not in any pain, just to get a baseline EKG. You just can't keep putting it off. Those 10 to 15 minutes can save your life."

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