The Importance of Taking Action
Billy Parks had always considered himself to be in good shape. But he also knew that a family history of heart disease was waiting in the wings.
Billy, who was 60 at the time, started feeling chest discomfort in March of 2017.“It felt like somebody was grabbing my throat and squeezing it,” Billy says. “My first thought was that it may have been my heart, because both of my parents had heart problems.” At first, Billy hesitated to do something about the pain, but when it persisted, his wife, Anne Parks, RRT-NPS, AE-C, clinical supervisor in the cardiopulmonary department at CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier Health System, insisted he make an appointment with a cardiologist. Rodney Reeves, M.D., Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists, ordered a series of tests that confirmed their suspicions: blockages in critical arteries, including the left main coronary artery. “Due to the location and seriousness of his blockages, I felt that bypass surgery in the near term was the best option,” Dr. Reeves says. “I didn’t want to rush, but we needed to move quickly.”
Dr. Reeves consulted Mary C. Mancini, M.D., PhD, medical director of the cardiac and thoracic surgery program at CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier, about Billy’s options. “Billy had significant coronary artery disease that was not going to be resolved with stenting,” Dr. Mancini says. “We needed to get more blood to his heart, and bypass was the best option.” Dr. Mancini and her team performed a coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), a type of bypass surgery in which a doctor removes a healthy artery or vein from somewhere else in the body, such as the leg, and grafts or connects it to a blocked coronary artery. This four-hour procedure bypassed the blockage in blood flow to Billy’s heart and saved his life.
Life After Surgery
Billy diligently completed 12 weeks of CHRISTUS Cardiac Rehabilitation after surgery and remains dedicated to regular exercise and a heart-healthy diet. He is back at work full-time as an electrical contractor and enjoying his favorite activities, including fishing, hunting and spending time with Anne. He also stressed the importance of being proactive about heart health with his sons Jared, 26, and Joshua, 24. “I tell them, ‘don’t wait. Take action,’” Billy says. “The entire staff at CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier is on deck to provide excellent care at every level.”