Robert Karafin did not know what angina was until it was almost too late. The 65-year-old Georgetown resident, a retired project manager, was being treated regularly for high blood pressure, and had been a patient of Pedro R. Perez, MD, at Bayhealth Cardiology Consultants since 2004. One day he recognized something was wrong. “It happened overnight. I couldn’t make it up the steps. I thought it was acid reflux,” he said. That was in the spring of 2009.
First, Karafin’s doctor treated his discomfort as acid reflux, but when medication didn’t relieve his symptoms, he went for a stress test. “I failed. I couldn’t do the treadmill, so I had to do the chemically induced stress test. I knew there was some sort of problem,” he said.
Dr. Perez said that scientific research has shown a strong link between hypertension and heart disease. “Around twenty percent of hypertensive men are unaware that they have high blood pressure,” said Dr. Perez. “For those who do have hypertension and are on medical treatment, only fifty percent actually are adequately controlled,” he said.
Karafin met with Interventional Cardiologist Roberto Scaffidi, MD, with Bayhealth Cardiology Associates in Dover, and that’s when he learned he had a “one-hundred percent blockage in the widow maker.” The widow maker is a common term for obstruction in the left anterior descending artery.
Dr. Scaffidi was able to open the blockage by placing a stent in the artery, a procedure that’s less invasive than bypass surgery. “My wife had a double bypass, and I saw what she went through,” said Karafin. “I didn’t want to undergo cardiac bypass surgery.”
Since the surgery in June 2009, Karafin has made some lifestyle changes as well. “I had a whole education about foods. I don’t buy anything without reading the labels. I don’t eat the same quantity of things,” he said. “I feel better now than when I was younger.”
In addition, he’s become more active. “I was active, but not as active as I am now. I walk 18 holes of golf, and I do a 25-minute brisk walk every morning. My memory is sharper too,” Karafin said.
And his physician is pleased with the lifestyle changes as well. “I am very proud of patients like Mr. Karafin, proud of how he took control of his life, proud of how he improved his diet and physical activities for the better resulting in such a positive and excellent outcome,” Dr. Perez said, adding that he encourages patients to take an active role in their healthcare for a better quality of life.
“I have peace of mind when I go see Dr. Perez. He said the odds are in my favor. Dr. Perez takes an interest in you. He knows who you are, and he has compassion so I have total confidence in what he tells me to do. Part of the reason I continue to do what I do is that I wouldn’t want to disappoint him.”