Published on November 18, 2019

Frankfort Man Back to doing What He Loves Following Heart Surgery at Silver Cross

Michael Buchanan of Frankfort loves to stay active. At 72, he works full-time, fishes, gardens and sings in the Lincoln Way Area Chorale. 

Not much slows him down.

michael buchananSo when he started feeling unusually fatigued earlier this year, especially while cutting the grass, he took notice. Then, with his wife’s encouragement, he made an appointment to see his doctor.

“I noticed when I was cutting the grass that I had to sit down four or five times; in the past I could usually do it all in one session. I felt like I was going to pass out or go to sleep. When I told my wife, she encouraged me to get to the doctor,” he explained.

Buchanan has diabetes and a family history of heart disease, so his primary doctor referred him to Dr. Joseph Stella, an interventional cardiologist on staff at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox. 

Dr. Stella performed an angiogram and found two blocked arteries in Buchanan’s heart that would require coronary bypass surgery to improve blood flow to the heart. The condition is referred to as atherosclerosis – a slow, progressive cardiovascular disease that is the result of plaque build-up in the arteries in or leading to the heart. 

“When I first received the news from the cardiologist about my heart blockage, my first thought was – ‘this can’t be happening to me,’ ” he said. 

In fact, he’d never experienced typical symptoms of heart disease such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea, pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back.

According to the American Heart Association, 48 percent of adults have cardiovascular disease, making it the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. The main risk factors for heart disease include a family history of cardiovascular disease, smoking, high blood pressure, poor diet, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, sedentary lifestyle, stress and obesity. 

Recovered and Back to What He Loves

Buchanan had heart surgery at Silver Cross in May, performed by Dr. Pat Pappas, a well-known thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon with over 25 years of experience.

After he recovered from surgery, Buchanan spent time in the outpatient cardiac rehabilitation at Silver Cross Hospital where he wore a heart monitor during exercise to gauge his progress and ensure his heart handled the workload properly.

“I was a bit nervous when I started cardiac rehabilitation; I wasn’t sure what to expect or if I could keep up. The staff have been so encouraging and now after several weeks of rehabilitation I have increased my endurance by walking on the treadmill and strengthening my muscles with weights,” said Buchanan.

“A diagnosis or treatment for a heart condition can be life-changing, even frightening,” explains Brendan Casey, Director of Cardiology, Endoscopy and the Interventional Lab at Silver Cross. “The goal of the Silver Cross Cardiac Rehabilitation Program is to provide individualized, progressive exercise and education to help participants and families recover from the cardiovascular event and prevent future heart problems. Our program is designed to improve the functioning of the heart and lungs, strengthen muscles, and help our patients confidently live their best life.”

“I am so thankful to Silver Cross Hospital for the superb care they gave me, the staff and physicians were just so knowledgeable. I am back to doing the things I love to do like gardening and fishing,” he added. “My wife and I take regular walks and I can even cut the grass in one pass again!” 

Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.