Vascular surgery helps get hiker back on the trail

Eileen Lizak loves to take long walks with her husband. Her health is something this 69 year old almost took for granted—until one day in the spring of 2015, when she fainted without warning. “I just hit the floor,” recalled the Union City resident.

EileenLizak2Six months later, Eileen fainted again, so her family doctor referred her to Henry Chong, M.D., a Reid cardiologist who sees patients at Bethel Cardiology in Greenville. Dr. Chong performed an ultrasound, and found that Eileen’s left carotid artery (one of the main arteries in her neck) was 65% blocked by plaque, a build-up of fatty, waxy deposits. Concerned, Dr. Chong referred her to William Ducey, M.D., a Reid vascular surgeon.

“Plaque build up restricts blood flow to the brain, putting patients at risk for stroke,” said Dr. Ducey. “Regardless of whether the blockage was causing Eileen to faint, she needed surgery to treat it. I recommended a carotid endarterectomy, a highly specialized surgery that involves opening up the artery and removing the plaque, then closing up the artery with stitches or a patch graft.”

The surgery was a success, and Eileen returned home expecting to make a speedy recovery. “Three or four days after I got home, I just didn’t feel right,” Eileen explained.  “I went to the emergency room in Winchester, and they sent me back to Reid.”  When Eileen arrived at the hospital, the team admitted her and began to run tests, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They also contacted Dr. Ducey to let him know Eileen was back in the hospital.

“Bless his heart, he came right to my room!” she exclaimed. “He said he wanted to know that everything was all right. It turns out, I was just feeling anxious about my health after the surgery. Dr. Ducey assured me that everything looked good on my MRI, and I would be fine.”

Since then, Eileen has been recovering well. “I’m glad I came to Reid,” she said. “I haven’t had any fainting spells since the surgery, and I do feel better since getting rid of that blockage.”

Eileen has since sent her husband and friends to get screened for heart disease with Reid’s $29 heart CT scan, which detects calcium buildup in the arteries.  “It costs as much as a dinner for two,” she said. “Go find out what shape your heart is in—you’ll be glad you did!”