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Heart and Vascular

How a Regular Check-Up can Save a Life: Fred Allen’s Story

Apr 5 2019

Think about the last time you made an appointment to see a doctor. Typically, we only call when something is wrong or off with our health. But an annual regular check-up can save a life.

Find out how Fred Allen’s life and his heart were saved because he went in for a check-up.

Fred Allen and his wife, Barbara, had just recently moved to Paducah, KY when he felt something out of the ordinary in his chest. “It was so subtle,” says Fred Allen. “It was cold and I was walking the dogs. Occasionally I would feel just very, very slight – it wasn’t even pressure – just kind of like a little feeling in my chest. I didn’t even think much of it.”

After experiencing this sensation, and knowing his family history of heart disease, Allen made an appointment with his primary care physician, who ordered a stress test. The results showed that he needed a heart catheterization.

“My heart cath showed multiple blockages,” adds Allen. “The next thing I know is my interventional cardiologist, Dr. David Hogancamp, recommended I have open heart surgery. I was very nervous because I felt pretty good.”

Much to Allen’s surprise, his left anterior descending artery, called the “widow maker” artery, was blocked. Cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. James O’Rourke performed the surgery, which he calls the ‘Cadillac version’ of a triple bypass.

“Since I used the right and left mammary arteries to bypass his two largest coronary arteries, it is unlikely he’ll ever have surgery again,” says Dr. O’Rourke. “The benefit of mammary artery bypass as opposed to using vein is that they virtually last forever.”
Allen can’t stress the importance of preventative wellness enough. He urges people to keep up with annual health screenings and tests so a problem can be identified before it’s too late.
“The reason I recommend annual exams for my patients is to really dive into any pre-existing risk factors, such as age, lifestyle and family history,” says Dr. Alex Wright, Mercy Health family medicine physician. “If you find a problem early, chances for treatment and cure are much better. Mr. Allen is a perfect example of the importance of annual screenings and staying on top of your health.”
“I am so thankful I caught this early,” adds Allen. “My doctors have extended my life and that gives me peace of mind.”

Learn more about Mercy Health’s comprehensive heart and vascular services, and find a doctor near you at mercy.com/heart.

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