Dennis Koffer's Chest Pain Story
Dennis Koffer, MD, was one of the first patients to benefit from percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) in Johnston Health’s cardiac catheterization lab.
In PCI, a doctor places catheters in the heart arteries to study them or, if they’re clogged, to open them. This procedure includes stent placement and balloon angioplasty.
Family History of Heart Attacks
“My family history of heart disease is frightening,” Dr. Koffer said. “My father, his brother, and my grandfather all died of their first heart attacks. For two of the three, their first symptom was death. My father, who died at age 53, had angina symptoms first. He had his fatal heart attack while lying on the gurney just before going into the operating room for a bypass.”
My Own Heart Emergency
“My cardiologist knew about this history. So when I called and told him I was having a bit of chest pain and feeling lightheaded, he told me to go to the emergency department right away. I did. They did an electrocardiogram (EKG) and gave me an aspirin.
“Thankfully, test results showed that I was not having a heart attack. But my cardiologist thought it was a good idea to have a diagnostic catheterization to find the cause of my chest pain.”
Treatment was ‘A Piece of Cake’
The next day, Matthew Hook, MD, found one blood vessel was blocked about 70 percent. He opened the vessel using balloon angioplasty and inserted a stent to restore blood flow.
“Dr. Hook leaned over to say he was finished,” Dr. Koffer recalled. “I never felt a thing. The procedure was a piece of cake, absolutely remarkable. Afterward, they sent me to cardiac care area on second floor for recovery.
“The nursing care was superlative. The demeanor of the care team does almost as much to aid your recovery as the actual therapeutic intervention. I was on the telemetry floor, and the nurse knew what to do for every aspect of my care. I went home the next morning, and within a week, I was back to seeing patients and doing surgery.”
Care Close to Home
“When I started working at Johnston Health, we didn’t even have a cardiologist, much less a cardiac cath lab,” Dr. Koffer said. “This community should be really proud of what this hospital has become and the services it can offer. It’s nice to not have to leave home for your health care.
“If you have chest pain, it should be evaluated right away. It can be a deadly symptom. Fortunately I got the right help at the right time—and the right place!”