Everyone of us knows someone with cardiovascular disease. It may be a family member, friend, coworker, or ourselves. In fact, it is the number one killer of men and women in the United States. Each year it kills more than a half a million people in the United States.
Cardiovascular disease is a blanket term of a chronic inflammatory condition which manifests as plaque accumulation in walls of blood vessels. Blood vessels throughout the body are affected including the coronary arteries (which supply the heart with blood), carotid arteries (which supply the brain with blood), lower extremity arteries, upper extremity arteries, mesenteric arteries (which supply the intestines with blood), and renal arteries (which supply the kidneys with blood).
Although preventing cardiovascular disease remains elusive, over the past 2 decades, we have been fortunate to make great strides in treatment. Coronary stent technology has made it possible to live an entire life-time with a greater than 90% chance that the stents will remain open. The same stent technology has been extrapolated to other blood vessels.
Coming from a family of physicians, I always had a strong interest in the medical sciences. However, my interest in cardiovascular disease began after my Dad had a massive myocardial infarction. At the time, I was a medical student and never thought that the very subjects I would be studying would have such a personal impact on me. My Dad was a picture of health before his heart attack and did not have any of the traditional risk factors for heart disease. Fortunately, emergent stent placement saved his life. His heart recovered from the damage and with the help of medical therapy, cardiac rehab, and improved diet, he made a full recovery.
The desire to help patients on the brink of death ignited a passion to become a master learner. I have strived over the years to learn from experts in the field, continuously trying to refine my techniques and skills. I believe that we must put our best effort out there every day – every surgery, every patient. The stakes are too high, lives too important to give anything less.