Articles for April 2015

A Routine Day

Samuel A. Kojoglanian, MD, FACC, FSCAI

Rod, who is a 75 year-old gentleman with a keen mind, and who works on top-secret government projects, was at work on a routine day. I had seen him in my office for the past 3 years, and he was doing well.

While at work a couple of months ago, he felt ill, and sat in his office alone. Five minutes later he managed to get up, walk down the hallway and collapsed in front of his colleagues. Paramedics arrived, and resuscitated him with several shocks because he was in a pulseless ventricular arrhythmia, which is a heart rhythm incompatible with life. His hospitalization was prolonged, but after 2 months, only as Rod would do, he is begging to go back to work.

The angiogram didn’t show much disease and “plumbing” problems were ruled out, consistent with the previous tests. I placed a holter monitor on him, and noted that he had developed rapid heartbeats followed by long 4 to 5 second pauses, which may have caused his cardiac arrest.

Today, he is getting an AICD, an automatic internal cardiac defibrillator, which will pace his heart when it is too slow and shock his heart if it is too fast and erratic. His prognosis is excellent given his strong heart muscle. His full recovery is remarkable, and simply a miracle. And all this started on a routine workday two months ago.

I guess it was a routine day when Jesus was lying dead in the tomb. Then he rose and stunned the world, transforming darkness to light, death to life, depression to joy, and hopelessness to hope, shocking the Roman world, which to this day, impacts us greatly.

After much thought, I really don’t think there are any routine days. Today, start your day with a thankful heart. You are a recipient of breath and a living heart. Be grateful for what is given to you. Don’t be rude; the person you bark at may be the one who will perform CPR on you. Be gracious; it is so much healthier to be kind that to be mean. Be in expectation of good to come from a God who lives and who is not mad at you, but is madly in love with you. Guard your heart. Make people smile. You just never know what a “routine” day may bring!

Changing Your World

Samuel A. Kojoglanian, MD, FACC, FSCAI

Missy is 80, but acts like she’s 30. Lately however, she slowed down, and complained of chest pains while walking a block or two. Much to everyone’s surprise, an angiogram showed severe coronary artery disease, and she underwent successful bypass surgery.

Her chest pains resolved, but months later, her stamina was not up to par. Simple blood tests revealed severe anemia and other abnormalities. She complained of abdominal pains, so we quickly got her to see a GI doctor. A colonoscopy revealed a tumor, and she underwent another major surgery.

She is hanging on, fighting on, believing, and churning to get better. I asked her about her resolve, her determination, and her tenacious hope to endure, and she said, “Oh, that’s easy, lots of prayer, sprinkled with good attitude.”

I believe as Missy believes that she will overcome. First, I’d like to stress the importance of screening tests, such as blood work at least annually, a stress echocardiogram when it’s proper, and a colonoscopy when it’s recommended. Then, I’d like to address our outlook. A negative mindset is a sure prescription for deterioration while a joyful spirit will translate into a healthy and strong body, mind and soul.

Want to change your situation? I’ll prescribe 2 things: prayer and attitude. With prayer, you can move mountains, and calm your weary soul. You can cast all your cares on God, who loves you and embraces you. You can have peace that surpasses all understanding. This will allow you to have a good attitude, and with a good attitude, you can embrace the day, and stay the course.

But, “What about education, opinions, science, giftedness, skill, appearance, genetics, accomplishments, referrals, networking, IQ, and popularity,” you may ask? If you’ve been observing, you’ll know that we can’t change many things: have you tried to change a particular person, change your past, or change the inevitable? Me too. But there is something you can change, and that’s your focus. Changing your focus will change your attitude. And in so doing, you can change the world!

Healing the Body, Soul and Spirit

Samuel A. Kojoglanian, MD, FACC, FSCAI

One of my patients, David, had a massive heart attack at age 46. While on the cardiac cathetherization table, he died several times and by God’s grace, we brought him back to life and successfully opened up his heart artery that was 100% blocked.

David was a smoker and a heavy drinker. Anger was fueled by his past, when he recalled his parents, who divorced when he was 7. He had heard his parents arguing about their “problem child, ” and being the only child, he always blamed himself for the divorce. That led him to a life of drugs in his teenage years. The drugs turned into alcohol and cigarettes and daily chained him as a prisoner in his adulthood.

No matter what medications I gave him, what counsel I offered him to stop drinking and stop smoking, and no matter how many arteries I opened, my work would have been wasted if I did not focus on the core issue. Yes he had heart disease. Yes he was angry. Yes he felt shame. But why? The more we spoke, the more I found his issue was one a deep injury: rejection, which led to pain, anger, bitterness, and self-condemnation. The addictions effortlessly followed and ultimately manifested in a sick heart.

The person you see in the mirror is much more that a body. The symptoms doctors treat is much more than a diagnosis. The prognosis given to you is so much more than a lab, ultrasound or biopsy result. The Body (Greek, soma) is the physical structure of a human being. The Soul (Greek, psyche) consists of the mind, will and emotions. The Spirit (Greek, “Pneuma”) is the noblest part of a man, occupies the innermost area of his being, separates us from animals, and is the eternal component of a person, seeking purpose, goodness, and a relationship with God. The body communicates with the material world. The Spirit communicates with the spiritual world. And the soul mediates between the two. One cannot be whole by just taking care of his body.

According to Psalm 139:14, you are knit by God in your mothers’ womb, and are amazingly and wonderfully made. Placing a stent for coronary artery disease, or treating one’s blood pressure, high cholesterol, arrhythmia, cancer or depression is addressing such a minor part of a whole person.

I am convinced that we need a sound body, but that’s not possible until one has a sound soul, mind and spirit. And that’s how David is slowly mending today. Wishing you and your family complete healing!

Starting Anew

Samuel A. Kojoglanian, MD, FACC, FSCAI

Judith came to see me for palpitations. She hadn’t experienced her fast heartbeats for many years, but the recent stress and demands in her life were pushing her to care for herself less and less.