Cardiovascular disease or CVD (disorders of the heart and blood vessels) is one of the leading causes of death in the Philippines and around the world. It has become increasingly important for Filipinos to prioritize their heart health to avoid CVDs such as coronary artery disease or heart attacks. There are several risk factors for heart diseases including smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, high cholesterol, uncontrolled blood pressure, and diabetes. However, heart problems can occur in even the healthiest of patients, too. Early warning signs can include shortness of breath and chest pains. When these symptoms appear, it is important to see a cardiologist to properly and quickly assess potential heart disease through clinical evaluation and the required diagnostic procedures.
For Rev. Fr. Walter Zerda, Servant General of the Pacem Missionaries in Binangonan Rizal, heart problems were the farthest thing from his mind when he began experiencing a painful twinge in his chest. Before feeling a bit of discomfort, he had led an active healthy lifestyle.
While he indulged in salty and oily food every once in a while, he still maintained a healthy diet and also frequently played badminton and basketball. However, the pain – which started on and off – eventually did not go away and he thought it best to see a doctor.
Rev. Fr. Walter Zerda is all smiles and back to his normal daily routine after undergoing a successful angioplasty at De Los Santos Medical Center
“I had myself admitted to a medical center nearby,” Fr. Walter shared. “I thought it best to see if something was wrong because I felt pain in my chest and my arm along with numbness that wouldn’t go away. Our doctor (Dr. Lemuel Tocjayao) recommended me to have a roster of diagnostics. Once done, it was found that I had some abnormalities. I started on several medications, but the pain didn’t cease.”The diagnostic exams showed that Fr. Walter would not benefit from medical therapy alone. It was then that he was referred to Dr. Danilo Santos, Head of the De Los Santos Medical Center Catheterization Laboratory Unit and he was asked to undergo a coronary angiogram.
“When we did further diagnostics on Fr. Walter, we discovered two major blocks in his arteries,” Dr. Santos explained. “These blocks were quite severe. One was blocked 90% and the other 70%. These were causing distress on the heart and consistent pain. He needed to have coronary angioplasty done to open the clogged arteries and improve blood flow to the heart.” Coronary angioplasty or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is a procedure used to open clogged arteries by inserting a guide catheter followed by a wire, and a balloon, and a stent. The balloon is inflated inside the artery to widen the area that has become narrowed to help improve blood flow. Then a permanent small wire mesh tube called a stent is placed in the widened artery to keep the area wide and decrease the chance of narrowing again.
After diagnosis, Fr. Walter had a day to prepare for the procedure. He felt comfortable and cared for by Dr. Santos and the staff of the DLSMC CathLab and chose to have the angioplasty done there as they made him feel safe and at home. “The night before the procedure I lifted everything to God,” he explained. “I was confident that Dr. Santos and his team can manage, but I know that anything can happen. I prayed for the best.”
Under the expert hands of Dr. Santos and the DLSMC CathLab team, Fr. Walter underwent angioplasty through the artery on his wrist. Two stents were carefully placed in the two blocked arteries. The procedure lasted roughly two hours.
“Angioplasty is the first and most recommended type of procedure for coronary artery disease if patients are viable candidates,” Dr. Santos said. “It’s less stressful on the patient than open-heart bypass surgery and the recovery is faster. If all goes well, a patient can go home in 12-24 hours after the catheter is removed.” Fr. Walter, with divine intervention, felt immediate relief after the procedure and stayed in the hospital for a total of two days before being discharged.
He was committed to a full recovery and took medicine and rested as much as possible with just light activity like walking. He came in for a follow-up with Dr. Santos three months after the angioplasty and everything was healing nicely. The next follow-up is slated after six months.
DLSMC, a member of Manuel V. Pangilinan’s MVP Group of Companies under the Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings, Inc. (MPHHI) banner, offers complete packages for coronary angiogram, coronary angioplasty, and pacemaker insertion at the Catheterization Laboratory Unit. In addition to cardiac catheterization, the DLSMC CathLab also offers several other Interventional Radiology procedures such as Intracranial Aneurysm Coiling and Renal Artery Interventions, to name a few. The CathLab strives to provide the best minimally invasive image-guided diagnostics and treatment at cost-effective rates.