A Game Changer

David Bordewyk had a few spare minutes in his schedule on Valentine’s Day.

It had been a busy week for the director of the South Dakota Newspaper Association, working to meet with legislators at the state capitol. As he left the state house floor, he remembered the Sanford mobile heart screening unit was parked right outside.

“It was something I had been meaning to do,” says David, an active 51-year-old man whose family has a history of heart disease. “What better gift to give your wife on Valentine’s Day than the news that you had a heart screening?”

That last-minute decision changed, and potentially, saved his life. The testing that began on Valentine’s Day helped David’s cardiologists discover a 90 percent blockage in his heart weeks later. Sanford Heart specialists were able to open his arteries and prevent the damage of heart attack.

An ailing heart

Without that test, the busy executive never would have thought his heart was in danger. He knew several people in his family had suffered with heart problems, putting him at higher risk of heart disease, but he was only 51, exercised and generally saw himself as healthy.

“It’s scary to think my heart had that much blockage,” says David, standing in the clipping room where stacks of newspaper tear sheets are being sorted. “This was an incredible wake-up call.“

David had been feeling tired, but thought it was due to his schedule and other factors. When he walked into Sanford’s mobile screening lab, he didn’t feel any pain or other discomfort.

The first “red flag” was a high score on the test for calcium, a screening that helps identify signs of potential plaque build-up in the arteries. David scheduled a follow-up appointment a few weeks later in Sioux Falls to check his heart further.

Saving his heart

Sanford Cardiologist Dr. Adam Stys performed the angiogram at Sanford Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls, showing David needed an immediate intervention to keep the blood flowing to his heart. By placing four stents, the cardiologist kept the blood flowing and prevented the damage of a heart attack.

“This is why we do screenings like this, to give patients a better quality of life and more time with their loved ones,” says Dr. Adam Stys. “This disease kills - fast and final. In this kind of case there isn’t much margin for further blockage.”

Now, David can look forward to a normal life, without danger of heart attack, as long as he takes his medication and maintains a healthy diet and exercise, the cardiologist says.

Almost immediately after the procedure, David felt better, he says. He realized some of the fatigue he had experienced during the past year was probably a sign that his heart was just working too hard.

“In hindsight you realize your body is trying to tell you something,” says David. “I feel so blessed that I was spared having to deal with a heart attack.”

David sees Sanford cardiologist Dr. Maria Stys for his follow-up care, having most appointments right in Brookings. She says patients like David have a far easier recovery when they can prevent a heart attack, rather than treat it as it’s happening.

“He’s one of many patients who is a very lucky man,” says Dr. Maria Stys. “His health today is excellent.”

A tool for heart health

Heart screenings are recommended for anyone with a family or personal history of heart problems, smoking or diabetes. But anyone who has any concerns about their heart health can and should take advantage of heart screening, says Dr. Maria Stys.

David says he looks at the whole situation as a “game changer.” He takes his cholesterol medicine daily, eats better and makes it a new priority to take the time to work out. He wants to be around for more Valentine’s Days with his wife and his two sons, ages 17 and 15.

“I work to maintain a balance,” says David. “The day I got out of the hospital, I felt like I got slapped in the face. You decide what is the most important.”

He tells friends and family, not to hesitate to have their hearts screened. He’s even going so far as to blog about his experience, both to update friends on his situation and to get the word out about screenings. “You just do it and you’ll feel better once it’s done,” says David. “It could change your life.”

To learn more about preventive heart screens, call (888) 996-4673.

Posted Date: September 2013

A Game Changer

David Bordewyk had a few spare minutes in his schedule and decided to pop into a Sanford mobile heart-screening unit to check his heart health. What happened next saved the 51-year-old man’s life.