JACKSONVILLE, Fla – You see him every day delivering the news with flare. But a couple weeks ago he was missing in action. Bruce Hamilton listened to his body and he wound up in the operating room. It was the second time in two years Bruce's heart was talking and he listened.
Two years ago Bruce had a 98 percent blockage in the widow maker, an alternate name for the anterior interventricular branch of the left coronary artery. He suffered from chest pains, shortness of breath and other problems. Bruce ended up needing a stent in that artery to clear the blockage. Two years later the same artery contributed to very similar symptoms. Bruce knew he couldn't ignore them this time either.
"I have a history of heart disease in my family. Both my grandfathers died when they were not that much older so I knew I could not ignore the warning signs. Go to the doctor because it could save your life," says Hamilton.
Also developing a relationship with your doctor could be lifesaving. Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Majdi Ashchi knows Bruce's heart better than anyone else. He performed his first surgery and did his most recent stress test. It showed there might be another abnormality.
"We're going to do an Intervascular Ultrasound, which is basically looking at the artery from the inside, as if you're looking in a tunnel to see if there are any blockages at all," says Ashchi.
Bruce was back in the operating room for a different surgery, more exploratory this time to see if the blockage was severe.
"We were concerned that there's a blockage a serious blockage," says Ashchi.
Dr. Ashchi was ready to clear it if necessary.
"We concentrated our investigation to this area and he has 10-15 percent blockage," says Ashchi.
The blockage was minimal and this time Bruce didn't need a stent.
"We stress tested this area to see if there was any significant blockage. Thank god there's no significant blockage in this area and Bruce did really well so he will be able to go home in an hour and a half," says Ashchi.
Dr. Ashchi was finished but Bruce's work was just beginning. He needs to make some changes so he doesn't end up back in the operating room.
"It was very easy, the blockage was not what we thought it would be. I need to make lifestyle changes so that I don't have to wind back here," says Hamilton.
"When you know you have heart disease you have to conform to a new lifestyle. Lose weight and I can't emphasize the amount of exercise you're doing," says Ashchi.
Ashchi says you need to exercise 30-45 minutes a day at least three to five days a week. He suggest making sure you get your heart rate up to an appropriate level for your heart condition as advised by your doctor.