From hiking to heart surgery
When Alesia Foltz saw a newspaper advertisement about heart risk assessments at Sentara RMH Medical Center, she became curious and made appointments for herself and her husband Greg.
The Sentara RMH Heart Check program provides cardiovascular disease risk assessments. Before attending a one-hour consultation with a heart health navigator, patients complete lab work to check cholesterol and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, an indicator of inflammation.
During the consultation, a nurse navigator reviews the patient’s lab results, talks about cardiovascular disease risks and discusses a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Greg’s tests showed elevated cholesterol and CRP levels, and a coronary calcium computed tomography (CT) scan conducted the day after his consultation found a significant buildup of plaque in his coronary arteries.
“I had no symptoms, except for the indigestion,” says Greg, 57. “I’m physically active. I golf, hunt and fish, and in fact, I did a four-mile hike just a few days before my appointment.”
Searching for causes
Given his indigestion, which can sometimes indicate a concern, and his CT scan results, cardiologist Brad Rash, MD, ordered a stress test and a heart catheterization. The results showed that Greg had 80 percent blockage in his arteries. He met Jerome McDonald, MD, a Sentara RMH cardiothoracic surgeon, and was scheduled for coronary bypass surgery a week later.
“It all happened so quickly, we didn’t even have time to think,” recalls Alesia. “But Maria Hostetter, our heart health navigator, guided us through the whole process.”
Fixing the blockages
Greg underwent coronary artery bypass graft surgery for five blockages. His healthy weight and fitness worked in his favor during his recovery. Two weeks after surgery, he was ready for cardiac rehabilitation.
The Foltzes now recommend Heart Check to others.
“I think everyone should get one,” says Greg.