Ray - Recurring symptoms led to open heart surgery


I experienced two warning signs that indicated something could be wrong with my heart. First, in May, I had surgery, and within a day or two of going home, I started sweating and didn’t feel right. I was worried I was having a heart attack so my wife took me to Fairview Northland Medical Center.

My blood work and EKG came back just fine so I went home. Three weeks later, I just didn’t feel good. I thought it was indigestion or heartburn, but I started sweating and felt a pain in my left shoulder. I took a Nitroglycerin tablet, and my symptoms went away; however, they returned later. I took another tablet, and the symptoms went away again. I felt better and went to bed, but woke up with the same symptoms. I took a third tablet, but I was worried. My family history includes several loved ones dying from a heart attack or heart disease. I called the emergency room at Fairview Northland Medical Center, and they recommended I come in to be checked out—I’m so glad that I did.

My emergency room doctor ran me through all kinds of tests, but once again, my results came back fine. I felt fine—but he wasn’t comfortable with sending me home. After consulting with a cardiologist at Fairview Southdale Hospital, he decided I should be transferred there to get an angiogram so they could get a better look at my arteries.

I was floored by the results—my cardiologist, James Erdahl, MD, told me I had five blocked arteries. I didn’t think it would be that bad. I had some blockage in 1995, but had gone 17 years without any problems. I work out four times a week and lead a very active life. Even my doctors were amazed that I could function so well with that much blockage.

Dr. Erdahl recommended open heart bypass surgery. He repaired four arteries that were more than 95 percent blocked. A couple of days later, I was able to go back home to Princeton. I’m currently in cardiac rehab a few times a week at Fairview Northland Medical Center to rebuild my strength and endurance. I also see my cardiologist there for follow-ups. It’s been three months since my surgery, and I’m feeling great! I’ve had to cut back on hours at my business, but still enjoy working, traveling to races, and spending time with my wife of 38 years, our daughter and two grandchildren.
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