Patient Testimonial: His First Choice for For Expert Cardiac Care: Jefferson Regional
Joe Downing of Jefferson Hills has worked in hospitals long enough to know that heredity can be a major risk factor for developing cardiac disease. It wasn’t until both his father and his mother’s sister underwent triple bypass surgery after suffering chest pains that he realized he needed to pay more attention to his own health.
“I have always been in good shape,” said Downing, 47. “I even ran the Pittsburgh Great Race twice. But since I was in the health care field, I knew I needed to be checked out.”
His primary care physician, Brian Deyarmin, MD, of South Hills Family Medicine, recommended a stress test for Joe. Dr. Deyarmin also prescribed statins (cholesterol lowering medications) and advised Joe to keep his cholesterol in check -- which he did for several years.
During that time, Joe, a registered nurse, earned his Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and worked in several hospitals, including Jefferson Regional Medical Center as a Surgery Center nurse.
It wasn’t until August 2011 – when he was embarking on the next phase of his career to earn a Master’s degree as a nurse anesthetist – that he experienced health problems and chose Jefferson Regional for answers. At the time, he didn’t think much of the “heavy feeling” in his chest.
“I had that ‘elephant sitting on my chest’ feeling,” he said. “It didn’t really hurt, and I thought it was from stress with everything going on in my life.”
He went back to Dr. Deyarmin, underwent another stress test, which was mildly abnormal, and scheduled an appointment with Cardiologist Daniel Rubin, MD. Dr. Rubin consulted with the patient and determined the next step would be a CT angiogram. It revealed that one of Joe’s arteries was restricting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart, causing his chest discomfort.
Based on the results, Dr. Rubin recommended a cardiac catheterization. The procedure done by Dr. Rubin revealed a 90 percent blockage in his LAD (left anterior descending artery) and bypass surgery would be required.
Joe had single bypass surgery the next day with Cardiovascular/Thoracic Surgeon Kyung Park, MD, who utilized one of Joe’s internal mammary arteries (a blood vessel located on the inside of the chest cavity) rather than a traditional vein from the leg to create a surgical bypass. Dr. Park said the use of internal thoracic arteries is a standard approach for bypass patients because of the well-documented superior patency (the artery remains unblocked and functional) and survival rates.
And to think, heaviness in my chest was the only symptom I had. I didn’t have pain or shortness of breath. Maybe I felt tired, but I didn’t realize I was on my way to a heart attack,” Joe said.
He is back on track to finish his Master's degree and schedule the next phase in his recovery process – cardiac rehabilitation. “I can’t say enough about the great care I received at Jefferson Regional Medical Center,” Joe said. “The nurses, the doctors, the entire staff – everyone was just great.”