Aortic Disease

Out on the Dance Floor After Heart Surgery

Like many people, James T. confesses to being much too casual about his heart health.

"I knew I had a valve issue and my cardiologist was monitoring that, so I thought everything was fine. I never had any discomfort or sharp pain. But if I went up a flight of stairs too quickly, I would get out of breath," he says.

James' son David wasn't as casual about those symptoms. He insisted his father see interventional cardiologist Dr. Sean Janzer at Einstein to get checked out. Because David works in healthcare, he knew of Dr. Janzer's reputation.

"As it happened, that was the right thing to do," says James, a retired architect who recently celebrated his 80th birthday. "In the catheter lab they discovered I had blockages and needed three stents put in to open my coronary arteries."

Dr. Janzer performed a non-invasive procedure, called a percutaneous coronary intervention. Then, Drs. Alexandra Tuluca and Christian Witzke performed a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). The TAVR procedure unblocked James' main artery and improved blood flow and lessened stress on his heart muscle.

"During the process, Drs. Janzer, Tuluca, Witzke and Singer answered all my questions and explained everything so that I had a great deal of confidence about what was going to happen," he says. "But I research everything, and this was no exception. I was pleased to learn that the TAVR procedure is a beautiful technological solution that has been proven to work well."

Research aside, what really eased any residual concerns James had was the way his doctors worked with him.

"These are the friendliest, nicest and most professional doctors I have ever met. I really felt like they were not just concerned but committed to my well-being."

James also has high praise for all the medical providers and staff who took care of him while he was at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia.

"I was in great spirits because I had great care," he says. "The nurses were wonderful, the technicians who had to come in early in the morning to check my monitors and take blood were kind, and the food was delicious. I even sent a note to the kitchen one day saying that they made the best breakfast in Philadelphia!"

After discharge, James started his cardiac rehab. "I took that seriously and never missed a session. At one point during my rehab, my heart rhythm got out of whack, so they had to do cardioversion. That put me right back on the right path and I have haven't had any problems since," he says.

Only two months after his procedure, James was able to attend the reunion at his alma mater, Colgate University.

"There was a 12-piece band at the dinner and I was not about to sit on the sidelines, so I danced," he says. "At one point in the evening I thought, 'I wonder if Dr. Janzer would recommend this?' I'm pretty sure he would have been proud."

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