I was fortunate enough to have angioplasty performed by Dr. Spencer King at Emory University in 1985. At the time, I was a Captain with Eastern Airlines. The stress of the airline being taken over by Frank Lorenzo and a truly uncertain future, caused the left anterior descending artery in my heart to become virtually completely blocked. The reason that event didn't kill me was I had been running 6 miles a day for some years. The collateral circulatory system in my heart, built up by years of running, carried me through the event with no heart damage.
The big problem with angioplasty is not the procedure, but fear. Men tend to feel that they are indestructible. When an important part of our body malfunctions, it drives a knife into the very essence of the macho image we have of ourselves. That in turn brings on denial and fear.
A renowned plastic surgeon acquaintance called me and asked me to call a friend of his who was about to undergo angioplasty. His friend was in such a state of fear that he checked himself out of the hospital just prior to having the procedure done. A cardiovascular time bomb just waiting to go off.
The cure for the fear all of us, who have undergone angioplasty, feel is of course knowledge and understanding of the procedure. I commend Dr. King and his staff at Emory University in the strongest terms for alleviating my apprehension of having angioplasty done. Perhaps, as a pilot, I have an interest in things technical. I actually watched several television monitors displaying my procedure as it took place. I felt no apprehension whatsoever and found the procedure absolutely fascinating to watch. Without the knowledge Dr. king and his staff prepped me with prior to the procedure, My outlook and perhaps the outcome of the procedure might have been quite different.
Harv LaFollette, Chesterland, Ohio, USA, November 8, 1997
Hi! I am a nurse working with patients status post PTCA. I noticed that some patients cannot stick with the post procedure instructions, s.a. to be flat in the bed for a couple of hours, not to move the affected leg and not to touch the dressing or the femoral stop. Some patients are very nervous about the length of bed rest, or about the fact that they have to use a catheter for urination. They claim that the doctor never told them about this kind of regimen. Some of them are very annoyed that I have to check the affected groin very often or that I have to monitor their vital signs. They pretend that nobody told them about the medical care following the PTCA. My goal is to make my patients cooperate and collaborate with me. We can better identify any complications if the patient is calm and self-aware about what s/he feels afterwards. If any anxiety is sensed I try to identify it and provide my patients with the missing information using a very calm tone of the voice and a lot of reassurance.
Mihaela Marinescu, St. Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center, New York, USA, July 10, 1998
I had a 95% block in the LAD. I did not have a heart attack and I am told I have no heart damage. I had a stent placed. I had the surgery at 1PM and was home the next morning. I went to the doctor for my first check up and he did an EKG. He said it looked OK and I should have a series of stress tests in the next few weeks. I had the first stress test and the nurse said it looked OK. She talked to the doctor and he increased my medicine. No-one said why. I am not allowed to work or do anything except walk around the house. It has been three weeks since the procedure. I know people that have had heart damage and been back to work in a week. My question is why am I taking so long? Is it possible the doctor is not telling me everything? Please respond, my wife and I are really nervous about the length of time it is taking, mainly because there was no damage.
Salvatore, New York, USA, October 28, 1998
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