June 5, 2013. Watauga County native, Scott Eggers, is heart healthy thanks to The Cardiology Center of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS).
In 2010, when Eggers went to for routine blood work, he was advised to take a stress test. The results were abnormal, so he was sent to Charlotte to have a diagnostic procedure known as a heart catheterization and found an artery that was 85% blocked. A stent was placed successfully.
In December of 2012, Eggers was back at The Cardiology Center for a routine baseline stress test that is typical a year or more after a procedure. Abnormal results and his previous stent warranted a closer look. Eggers was scheduled for a diagnostic heart catheterization or heart cath the very next day. However, this time it was performed in Boone, by cardiologist, Dr. Paul Vignola.
“I like Dr. Vignola because he is very personable and explains everything to you. He respects your time and doesn’t piddle around with you. He makes sure you are well taken care of and then he is ready to move on and help someone else,” said Eggers with a smile.
Eggers shared that Dr. Vignola not only prepared him for the procedures, but helped reassure his wife and family with several personal calls during the procedure. Dr. Vignola explained the process in a very clear and concise manner. The first step is to perform a diagnostic heart cath to find out if there is a serious blockage. If there are no serious blockages or if the blockage can be treated with medication, the procedure stops. However, if it is determined during the diagnostic heart cath that there is a critical blockage, similar to the one Eggers had previously, then the procedure proceeds with repairing the blockage, if safe to do so.
“When I was in Charlotte, a few years ago, I felt more like a number as opposed to a person who was stuck lying on a gurney for hours waiting for my catheter procedure to be done,” said Eggers. “However, having this procedure at Watauga Medical Center was quite different. You are close to home, you are familiar with the hospital, you are treated with the utmost care by the staff, and they are as well trained and certified as the staff you will find down the mountain.”
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System began offering diagnostic catheterizations and angioplasty stents in November 2012. Since that time, more than 246 diagnostic heart catheterizations have been performed and 84 of those patients received stents with no serious complications.
“In 2012 when we were developing our Cardiology Service Line, the current literature demonstrated that percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), was safe and effective in rural areas without cardiovascular surgical capabilities,” said Kim Bianca, Sr. VP of Clinical and Outpatient Service Lines for ARHS. “Therefore in keeping with the American College of Cardiology guidelines we moved forward with the vision to provide this life saving program for the High Country. Thanks to the support of our CEO, Richard Sparks, our Board of Trustees and our medical staff, we have very successful interventional cardiac services here in Boone.”
“I have been a doctor for 43 years in a variety of large cities, however, here in the High Country is the first time I can honestly say I feel like I am really taking care of my friends and neighbors,” Vignola continued.
After recovering from his surgery, Eggers was advised to participate in the Cardiac Rehabilitation program offered at the Wellness Center and led by Dr. Jeff Soukup, PhD, CES and Kathleen Collins RN, along with students from Appalachian State University.
Eggers admitted the scariest part of the whole process was the looming lifestyle change. Known by his friends and family as the man who does not slow down, he knew it was time to trust the Lord and his doctor with some changes in his diet, exercise and smoking habit.
“You have to trust in the Lord when he opens doors,” said Eggers. The Cardiac Rehabilitation program “has helped me immensely with my recovery and it has increased by endurance level. Everyone is supportive and the interaction with other heart and pulmonary patients is very motivating.”
With only a few more weeks until he graduates from the Cardiac Rehabilitation program, Eggers looks forward to spending more time with his family, landscaping, and playing golf and much less time worrying about his health thanks to the team of providers at The Cardiology Center.
“We are very blessed to have such a strong cardiology center available to us in the High Country,” said Eggers. “I would recommend speaking with Dr. Vignola before anyone considers having a cath or stent procedure off of the mountain.”
For more information about the Cardiology Center, call (828)-264-9664 or visit www.apprhs.org/cardiology-center.
For more information about Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, visit www.apprhs.org.