Patients successfully undergo off-pump coronary artery bypass surgery, which can significantly reduce potential for side effects.
Edward Higgins is “feeling great” merely weeks after having coronary artery bypass surgery—a procedure that may have saved his life—at Bayfront Health Port Charlotte. Bayfront Health Port Charlotte is home to the longest running heart care program in Charlotte County.
“About three years ago, I began having difficulty breathing, not able to catch my breath,” said Higgins. “My doctor ordered a stress test and subsequently sent me to see Dr. Mejevoi who performed a cardiac cath and placed a stent.”
“Mr. Higgins was suffering from coronary artery disease, a narrowing of his artery, which I confirmed by cardiac catheterization,” said Nicolai Mejevoi, M.D., interventional cardiologist and independent member of the medical staff at Bayfront Health Port Charlotte. “At this time, I placed a stent, which is a small mesh tube that expands to help restore blood flow that was previously restricted. Once in place, the artery heals and the stent remains to provide support to the artery.”
Everything went well for the next few years until Higgins once again began having difficulty catching his breath. “It wasn’t as bad as it was three years ago, but noticeable. And I was feeling light headed. I often ride my bike twenty miles, no problem. But this one particular day, after about twelve miles in, I actually had to stop, get off, and lay down in the street.”
“Mr. Higgins was suffering from shortness of breath and lightheadedness for months, and a recent stress test suggested another diagnosis of coronary artery disease,” said Luis Dibos, M.D., cardiac surgeon and Chief of Cardiac Surgery at Bayfront Health Port Charlotte.
Confirmed by a subsequent cardiac catheterization, it was discovered that Higgins had a severe coronary artery blockage. At this time he was referred to Dibos who informed him that bypass surgery, also known as coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), would be the most effective in treating his blockages and adding years to his life.
“Although in his seventies, Mr. Higgins lived a fairly active lifestyle, and I knew that his risk for surgery was extremely low, with a predicted mortality of less than 0.5%,” said Dibos. “Multiple studies have shown that patency rates of the mammary artery in particular are excellent, with 90 percent of these bypasses being open up to 20 to 25 years. This is much better than any other therapy for coronary artery disease.”
CABG is a surgical procedure to restore optimal blood flow to a coronary artery that is obstructed or blocked. An incision is made in the chest and an
artery from the chest wall (linea) and/or vein from the leg is used to “bypass” the blocked artery and restore normal blood flow to the portion of the heart muscle which is supplied by the obstructed coronary artery.
Traditionally, this surgery is performed with the assistance of a heart-lung machine, which maintains life while allowing the heart’s beating to be stopped. However, Dibos performed Higgin’s procedure—as he does for about 75% to 80% of his CABG patients—off-pump, which is also known as “beating heart” surgery.
“This means that the heart-lung machine is not used, and the heart never stops beating,” said Dibos. “It reduces the post-operative length of stay in the hospital, and the incidence of neurologic complications such as stroke, kidney injury or even renal failure. And the need for blood transfusions is a lot less as well,” he adds.
Today, Higgins says “I feel great. I was out of the hospital in two days and have been attending cardiac rehab appointments to help improve my heart. I’m not riding my bike just yet but look forward to getting my doctor’s approval at my three month follow-up.”
Cardiac rehabilitation is a program led by a team of specially trained cardiac nurses, cardiac technologists, athletic trainers, physical, occupational and speech therapists, and dietitians. Participants work with members of the team to improve their strength, mobility, independence and quality of life.
“We are proud to be an area leader in cardiac care, with a team of surgeons, nurses, therapists and support staff that can help patients just like Mr. Higgins,” said Tara McCoy, Chief Executive Officer at Bayfront Health Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda.
To learn more about the heart care services at Bayfront Health Port Charlotte, visit http://bit.ly/HeartCareAtBayfront. To learn more about the CABG procedure, or to see if you may be a candidate, contact Bayfront’s Structural Heart Nurse Coordinator at 941-213-8299.
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