Doctors Give Smoker a Second Chance at Life - PIH Health - Whittier, CA

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Healthy Living Online

Published on February 12, 2015

Richard Sedita gets a second chance at life

Doctors Give Smoker a Second Chance at Life

Richard Sedita gets a second chance at lifeRichard Sedita considered himself healthy for his age. The retired foreman for an electrical contractor was, at age 69, still active with plenty of interests. Life was good, except for one thing: he was still smoking, a habit he started when he was just 16 years old.

Living a busy life, it was easy to dismiss the odd pain that occasionally flared up in his chest. He thought it was acid reflux. But one day, when he was bringing in the trashcans, the pain became much more intense. He knew it was time to see his PIH Health family medicine doctor.

Richard’s doctor prescribed several tests and based on the results, sent Richard to PIH Health Internist Gerald Beckham MD, who arranged for an electrocardiogram (EKG), a test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of the heart. This was shortly followed by an angiogram, an X-ray test that uses a special camera to take pictures of the heart and its blood vessels. The test is used to show blood flow to the heart and any narrowing or blockage of the arteries.

From the angiogram, Dr. Beckham saw one artery completely blocked, and the second 95 percent blocked. His recommendation: surgery. Richard met with Yousef Odeh MD, the cardiothoracic surgeon who would be operating on his heart. Dr. Odeh, Richard says, was direct, professional, and, most importantly, “a plain talker.” Dr. Odeh said he needed to operate right away.

The following day, Richard was in surgery. During surgery, Dr. Odeh discovered three more arteries that needed to be corrected.

“We re-vascularized his heart appropriately.  Any vessel that was in question received new uninterrupted blood flow. Many of the vessels were small and difficult to reach but that did not stop us.  We knew that his best chance to make a full recovery required us to do a perfect job,” said Dr. Odeh.

Richard did so well that Dr. Odeh released him to go home, just four days after his surgery. After more than a month and a half into his recovery, Richard began his cardiac rehabilitation. According to Richard, every doctor and nurse he worked with at PIH Health was “fantastic.” He went on to say the nurses who came to his home three days a week following his surgery were terrific too. “We joked, we laughed. We really enjoyed each others’ company,” he said.

Richard has begun a new chapter in his life. “Dr. Odeh didn’t pull any punches,” he says. “He said that if I stop smoking, I’d likely have another 15-20 good years. If I keep smoking, well…he’d see me on the table again in a year.” A decision was made then and there to stop smoking. He did it cold turkey, with his fiancé’s support. He knows that the PIH Health nurses and doctors are there to help him if needed.

“Thanks to Dr. Odeh and the entire PIH Health team,” Richard says, “I really have been given a second chance at life.”  

Get started on your journey to a healthy heart today by setting up an appointment with a PIH Health doctor who can help you get from where you are now to exactly where you want to be. Learn more about heart care at PIH Health.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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