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Short Detour

Robotic heart bypass surgery leads to swift recovery

Avid bicyclist Brian Olstinski thought he was in prime health when a heart attack interrupted his afternoon bike ride – and his life. A double bypass surgery using robotic tools at Community Memorial helped him recover quickly, so this major event was but a short detour.

a burning sensation in his chest. L

“At fi rst I didn’t think much of it,” Brian said. “T en I started feeling chest pressure, and then a sharp pain in my leſt shoulder blade. Another 200 yards down the path, the pain was shooting up into my neck and jaw.”

Olstinski resisted his wife’s urgings to go to the hospital, believing he had just pulled a muscle.

“T ere is some heart disease in my family, but I had never been diagnosed with high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and I am very active,” explained Olstinski, a former Marine. “I should have gone to the emergency department right away, but I was only 45 and I just couldn’t believe I was having a heart attack.”

T e next morning Olstinski went to his job in fi nance, but he was still not feeling well.

“I called my doctor’s offi ce. T ey told me to go straight to the emergency room,” Olstinski said.

At the Froedtert Health Community Memorial Hospital Emergency Department, “they took my blood pressure and it was ridiculously high,” Olstinski said. “T at’s when I knew I hadn’t pulled a muscle.”


A heart attack can occur when blood vessels that feed the heart muscle become blocked. Poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking can all contribute to the development of coronary artery blockage. For people like Olstinski, personal genetics seem to play a huge role.

“T e most common symptom of heart attack is chest pain or discomfort in the center of the chest but other symptoms such as jaw, neck or should pain or shortness of breath can occur,” said Mahmood Al-Wathiqui, MD, PhD, a fellowship-trained

Froedtert Health Medical Group cardiologist and chairman of the Cardiology Department at Community Memorial.

At Community Memorial, Brian was taken to the Cardiac Catheterization Lab for an emergency angiogram, an X-ray test that looks at the blood fl ow within an artery or a vein.

“We found that a blood vessel to the front of the heart was severely blocked,” Dr. Al-Wathiqui said. Oſt en, cardiologists can open heart blockages using a balloon-tipped catheter, then hold them open by inserting a wire mesh stent. In Olstinski’s case, this approach was problematic. “His blockage occurred at a branching point in the artery,” Dr. Al-Wathiqui explained. “A stent would not have been the best option at such a location.”

Patients like Olstinski usually require traditional, open-chest surgery. Fortunately, there was an alternative – minimally


ast August, Brian and Sharon Olstinski were winding down a 25-mile bicycle ride along Lake Michigan. With just two miles to go, Olstinski suddenly felt


• Can come on suddenly and intensely, but most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort

• Chest discomfort – most oſt en in the center of the chest, it lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

• Discomfort in upper body – can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach

• Shortness of breath – with or without chest discomfort • Other – breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, lightheadedness


Half of all people having a heart attack wait more than two hours before getting help. Whether they’re embarrassed that it may be a “false alarm” or are in denial, these feelings are normal but dangerous.


A HEART ATTACK • Don’t smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke • Treat your high blood pressure • Eat foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and salt

• Be physically active • Keep your weight under control • Get regular check-ups • Take medicine as prescribed • Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes

Source: American Heart Association

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