• heart patient riding a stationary bike

‘I Got A Second Chance at Life’

Dolton Man Praises Ingalls Heart Care

For forty years, Phil Mack of Dolton smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. Quitting was something he always wanted to do, but he never found the willpower to do it.

That all changed on April 1, when the 57-year-old husband and father underwent triple bypass heart surgery at Ingalls. “That gave me the willpower I needed,” he explains.

Phil’s health troubles began in March with symptoms like swollen ankles, shortness of breath and a cough that wouldn’t go away.

“I’d be out of breath just getting ready for work in the morning,” the machine operator explains. “Or when I walked up the stairs or after I parked the car in the church parking lot.”

On Sunday, March 27, he had a hard time catching his breath all day, and when Monday morning rolled around, he couldn’t muster the strength to get up for work.

That’s when his wife insisted he go to the hospital. “The crazy part is I knew something was wrong, and I knew it was serious,” he adds. “I was scared to go to the hospital because of the bad news I might get. I thank my wife Penny every day that she made me go. If I hadn’t, I might not be here today.”

Doctors in the Emergency Department at Ingalls diagnosed him with congestive heart failure and high blood pressure, and he was scheduled for a cardiac catheterization the very next morning. The results showed three severely blocked coronary arteries.

Cardiovascular/thoracic surgeon Vsevolod Tikhomirov, M.D., told him cardiac bypass surgery was the best way to restore proper blood flow to his heart.

In many cases, coronary artery disease can be treated with medication, lifestyle changes and less invasive procedures. But for some patients, blockages are so severe that surgery is necessary to ensure adequate blood supply to the heart.

“During bypass surgery, a graft vein or artery is taken from a healthy blood vessel in the body,” Dr. Tikhomirov explains.

“The graft is then surgically attached beyond an obstructed or poorly functioning artery.”

It’s not unlike a quick detour you might take to avoid traffic or road construction.

“After surgery, the blood flows through the graft vessel, avoiding or ‘bypassing’ the blocked vessel, and providing oxygen and nutrients necessary to the area of tissue beyond the blockage,” he added.

Following a brief stay in the hospital, Phil was back home where he made a pledge to transform his life by eating healthier, shedding extra weight and exercising.

Today, he’s made good on his promises; he’s down more than 20 pounds, avoids fried foods, limits his red meat intake to once a week and enjoys regular physical activity. Best of all, he hasn’t smoked a single cigarette since the end of March.

“I got a second chance at life,” he adds. “I can see my grandson grow up. Ingalls and Dr. Tikhomirov saved my life and treated me right. I take my hats off to them.”

Success Stories
  • Title

    Inspirational stories of courage and hope

Progress Magazine