BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — Last summer Emilio DeAngelis began feeling a pain throughout his chest, shoulders and neck.
“My blood pressure was normal; my cholesterol was normal,” he recalled. “It was a surprise to me.”
A week later the pain intensified. The 89-year-old realized he was having a heart attack and was taken to St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport.
“When someone has a heart attack, what happens is the blood vessel that supplies an area of the heart muscle becomes totally blocked,” explained Jeffrey Berman, MD, FCCC, the vice chairman of cardiovascular medicine at St. Vincent’s Medical Center.
DeAngelis’ right coronary artery was 90 percent occluded.
“The quicker we get that artery open and restore blood flow to the heart, the less heart muscle injury will occur,” Dr. Berman said.
DeAngelis was brought into St. Vincent’s state-of-the-art cath lab, where, through a small incision in the groin, Dr. Berman performed a balloon angioplasty to open up the blockage.
“Our goal is to get the artery open within 60 to 90 minutes,” he said.
A stent was then placed in the artery to restore blood flow.
“A stent is a little metal tube that holds the artery open,” Dr. Berman explained.
DeAngelis was home within a few days. Today he’s feeling better than ever, and is continuing his recovery in St. Vincent’s Cardiac Rehab program.
“Cardiac Rehab is a structured program where the patients come in to the rehab facility three times a week for 12 weeks and they learn about exercise, diet, and other lifestyle changes,” Dr. Berman said.
“They build up your muscle, shoulder, the walking, the balance, it’s amazing,” DeAngelis said.
“It’s incredibly gratifying when we see someone come in who’s having what could be a devastating heart attack, we’re able to stop that process and they return to a totally normal life,” Dr. Berman added.
Visit StVincents.org/heart to learn more.