Listening to your heart can save your life

But no, [Dr. Plumb] said, “We’re going to do open-heart surgery with a quadruple bypass.”

From left, David Blanchard and Thom Green.

Learn about heart health from Thom’s experience

Did you know your heart beats 100,000 times a day? A tiny powerhouse the size of a fist, it pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood every 24 hours. Your heart matters, and paying attention to your heart can save your life. It saved Thom Green’s.

He and his husband of 36 years, David Blanchard, were active hikers around their Klamath Falls home until Thom noticed something unusual. “As we went up inclines, I was starting to get winded,” he says.

“This took us totally by surprise,” David says. “Thom has no history of heart disease or anything.”

Thom’s doctor recommended he see a cardiologist. Thom turned to Dr. Jared Plumb of Southern Oregon Cardiology in Medford.

“After the tests, it was kind of shocking to hear, well, you have blockage in four places, running from 75 to 100%,” Thom says. “I was thinking oh, maybe I’ll get a stent. But no, [Dr. Plumb] said, “We’re going to do open-heart surgery with a quadruple bypass.”

Thom was grateful the tests showed his heart muscle remained strong with no damage, “other than it’s been beating for 70 years,” he says with a laugh.

David remembers a phone call from clinical case manager Alycia Tingley about a week before the surgery that he’ll never forget.

“It was like a heart-to-heart connection,” he says. “She was so willing to share her caring — unabashedly, unembarrassingly. It was just … wow. Just what we needed.”

His surgery, performed by Dr. Charles Carmeci, went well, and he and David are back to doing the things they love.

“Everyone was so professional and courteous and caring each step of the way,” Thom says, adding each member of the team thoroughly explained what they were about to do. “I knew what to expect, so nothing shocked me. I never felt afraid the whole time because I thought, everyone knows what they’re doing, so what better hands can I be in?”

Shortness of breath is just one sign of coronary artery disease. Here are some others to pay attention to:

  • Chest pain, usually triggered by exercise or emotional stress. Women may feel a brief or sharp pain in the neck, arm or back.
  • Extreme fatigue with physical activity.
  • Heart attack. Symptoms can include crushing pressure in your chest, pain in your shoulder or arm, shortness of breath and sweating. Women may experience neck or jaw pain, nausea, shortness of breath and fatigue. If you think you’re having a heart attack, call 911. If you are experiencing shortness of breath or chest pain, see your doctor immediately.
Tags: Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, heart care, Heart Center, Southern Oregon Cardiology
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