A family history of heart attacks was weighing on his mind when Ronald Bettinardi signed up for Mercy’s special heart and vascular screenings during Heart Month in February. The list of family members with heart issues included his father and brother, an uncle and two cousins.
“I had been thinking about it. Then I saw a commercial and I thought, ‘It’s time. I should really go do that,'" said Bettinardi, who is 63.
During Heart Month, Mercy bundles heart and vascular tests into a $100 package that includes a coronary-artery calcium scan. Sometimes called calcium scoring, the test uses computed tomography to show calcium buildup in plaque in the arteries. It can reveal the presence and severity of early stage heart disease.
Bettinardi’s initial tests looked fine, but the final test – the calcium scoring – showed cause for concern.
“They found an issue near the bottom of my heart – an abnormality,” he said.
After a visit with his primary care doctor, Bettinardi was scheduled for a cardiac catheterization procedure in which a cardiologist takes images of the heart to check for specific areas of blockage. From this, he learned he had three arteries almost completely blocked, and coronary bypass surgery was recommended.
The cardiologist asked him if he had any chest pain, but he didn’t. In fact, other than being tired at times, Bettinardi had no symptoms.
“To me, I was a time bomb," he said. "Who knows when something bad would have happened?"
The next day, he underwent quadruple bypass surgery at Mercy.
“They moved quite fast. There’s some impetus for that, and I’m grateful,” he said.
The surgical team took pains to explain to Bettindari what surgery would accomplish and walked his family members, including wife Barb, through what to expect.
“They tried to make my family feel comfortable, and I think that settled a lot of nerves,” he said.
Bettinardi was off work for two weeks after surgery, then began working from home. After one month, he returned to the office full time in his work as project manager for Wal-Mart.
Today, Bettinardi’s rehabilitation includes monitored therapy on his lunch hour twice a week. On a treadmill, he keeps up a speedy pace and after 10 minutes, his forehead glistens. Checking a monitor, a therapist calls out, “Looking good, Ron!”
Bettinardi acknowledges some after effects of surgery, but said in general, “I’m doing great.” He’s back to a favorite pastime, bowling, and following what he describes as a Mediterranean diet.
“My main objective is taking care of the health I’ve been given back,” he said.
If you are concerned about symptoms or a family history of heart disease, it’s not necessary to wait until the low-cost offer during Heart Month to schedule a heart and vascular screening. Mercy offers heart and vascular screenings year-round.