Procedure gives heart patient new lease on life
George Venzake is a different person today compared to almost 30 years ago.
The Streamwood, Ill., resident smoked pipes and cigars, put salt on pretty much everything and didn’t pay much attention to his health. Then, in 1987, Venzake had a heart attack, which was followed by successful heart surgery.
“We are all invincible until something happens to us,” says Dr. Solomon Secemsky, a cardiologist at the Advocate Heart Institute at Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill. “We always think it could never happen to us, but the fact is, bad things can happen to good people, and you need to reduce the likelihood it will happen to you.”
Since his surgery, Venzake exercises on a regular basis, has improved his diet and is an active member of the cardiac rehabilitation program at Advocate Sherman Hospital.
“You have to have discipline,” says Venzake, who is now 91. “You have to take care of yourself or else you’re not going to live to enjoy life.”
Dr. Secemsky agrees that it takes focus and hardwork to prevent heart issues before they occur.
“We can live with risks or actively try to do something before bad things happen,” he says. “It’s more difficult to treat heart problems then to prevent them. It’s like taking care of your house, if you take care of your roof, it will last longer.”
While exercising at the cardiac rehabilitation program a few years ago, Venzake began developing pain in his left leg, which limited his ability to exercise. He was later diagnosed with a severe case of peripheral vascular disease, also known as clogged leg arteries. This disease greatly increases a person’s risk of heart attack, stroke, amputation and death.
After successful intervention, Venzake was able to enjoy another couple years of exercise, but a few months ago, he noticed a wound on his leg that was not improving. He found out his artery was closed.
This lead him to undergo a procedure using the lumivascular approach, which allows physicians to see inside the diseased artery during the procedure. Doctors were able to open the artery by drilling a whole through it with ultrasound guidance.
“These new technologies are improving our ability to see different structures of the vessel and also reducing radiation,” says Dr. Maciej Malinski, who is also a cardiologist at the Advocate Heart Institute at Advocate Sherman Hospital who performed the procedure. “This procedure was able to help a very committed patient.”
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