To The Herald-Whig:
A couple of months ago, my primary care provider had me undergo a cardiac stress test because I had been having some mild chest discomfort and shortness of breath when exercising. Firmly believing my problem was heartburn, I reluctantly reported to the cardiology department at Quincy Medical Group for the test.
As I expected, the treadmill test showed no abnormalities. The nuclear imaging scan did show some minor reduced blood flow to the lower part of my heart, but nothing to be concerned about, or so I thought. I was home free and ready to get on with my exercise program as part of my weight reduction regimen.
Dr. Stilianos Efstratiadis, an interventional cardiologist at QMG, thought differently. He insisted that I undergo an angiogram because the imaging study results, coupled with my weight, high blood pressure and high levels of bad cholesterol, concerned him.
I resisted, telling him I was comfortable with the stress test results and didn't feel any invasive procedure was necessary. Dr. E., as he is known to patients and coworkers alike, pressured me to have the angiogram. My family sided with Dr. E. Still feeling it was a waste of time, I finally gave in and agreed to the procedure, which was performed on Aug. 3.
About one hour after going in, I came out of Blessing Hospital's catherization lab with two cardiac stents in a major artery in my heart, placed there to open up two 90 percent blockages. Dr. E. and everyone in the lab told me I was a very lucky man, that I had cheated the widow maker.
Why am I telling this story? First, to give me an opportunity to thank everyone involved in my care before, during and after the procedure: They saved my life. I couldn't have received better care anywhere in this country.
Secondly, I want to offer a word of warning and encouragement to anyone who, like me, may be resisting their doctor's advice. The stress test can't tell you everything. That's why cardiologists like Dr. E. are there. And the angiogram, performed by the skilled hands of local cardiologists, is a safe, life-saving procedure.
Don't let the widow maker win.