May 10, 2021 by John Fernandez
From Guatemala With Gratitude: Businessman Takes HeartFelt Stopover at Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute
Javier Gomez, an executive for a family-owned agricultural business in Guatemala, turned 50 in September and describes himself as a “pretty healthy person” who never smoked, exercises regularly and never had heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure.
But his health would soon take a profound turn.
“I started noticing that my back was hurting whenever I was on the elliptical machine or on the stationary bike,” recalls Mr. Gomez (pictured above with his son), who lives in Guatemala City. When his blood pressure became “a little high,” Mr. Gomez said he accompanied his father who had an appointment at his cardiologist’s office. The cardiologist decided to run a CT scan of Mr. Gomez’s coronary arteries.
“They did the CT right away and found that one of my coronary arteries was 100 percent blocked,” Mr. Gomez said. “So, basically my heart was like a time bomb.”
At that point, Mr. Gomez talked with a friend who knows a prominent interventional cardiologist at Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, which is about a 2.5-hour flight from his home in Guatemala City. His hometown doctor also recommended that he see the same interventionalist: Ramon Quesada, M.D., medical director of Structural Heart and Complex Percutaneous Coronary Intervention at the Institute, part of Baptist Health South Florida. Mr. Gomez did not hesitate to make the flight to Miami. He had flown often to South Florida and throughout the region as part of his family business.
Dr. Quesada and his team at the Institute are known for their complex but successful advancements in repairing or replacing heart valves, in addition to the more traditional stent procedures to clear coronary arteries. Dr. Quesada has led several clinical trials. Four years ago, he led a team that became the first in South Florida to offer patients with coronary artery disease a new, revolutionary “absorbable” heart stent, the first on the market that dissolves over time.
After flying to Miami, Mr. Gomez met with Dr. Quesada, who confirmed he needed a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), formerly known as angioplasty with a stent. During the minimally invasive procedure, a catheter (a thin flexible tube) is used to place a stent, a tiny tube made of either metal or plastic, to open up blood vessels in the heart that have been narrowed by plaque buildup, a condition known as atherosclerosis.
Mr. Gomez was having clearly progressive exertional angina because the artery to the front of the heart was occluded (blocked), said Dr. Quesada. He was suffering from ischemia, which refers to decreased blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle.
“Re-establishing normal flow would relieve his symptoms and allow him to resume his normal daily activities,” explains Dr. Quesada. “The patient had a complex coronary occlusion that required special techniques for successful recanalization (reopening of an occluded passageway) and stent deployment.”
After Dr. Quesada’s team “unblocked my artery with two stents and the blood started flowing again,” recalls Dr. Gomez. “I was sent back to my hotel that same day.”
The following day, Mr. Gomez said he felt a little chest pain and went to the Baptist Hospital ER. His tests came back normal and the pain subsided. “Dr. Quesada took me in again to make sure everything was OK, and everything was great. The attention I got from Dr. Quesada and his team were excellent.”
Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute’s prominence in coronary artery and heart valve procedures extends well beyond South Florida. The Institutes surgeons, interventionalists and cardiologists often treat international patients, such as Mr. Gomez.
“I thank God for putting Dr. Quesada in my life,” Mr. Gomez said. “He’s a great professional and very knowledgeable and the team of cardiologists is just amazing. I am very pleased. I have another appointment in April and I’ll go again. He’s going to do another stress test and I’ll get my annual checkup with him.”
Baptist Health International is one of the largest hospital-based international programs in the United States with more than 13,000 international patient visits at Baptist Health South Florida facilities from the Florida Keys to Palm Beach County. Baptist Health International is dedicated to providing comprehensive, high-quality services for international physicians and their patients, including hospital admissions, outpatient medical exams, medical second opinions, and physician consultations, as well as concierge services. For international inquires please call 786-596-2373 or contact International@BaptistHealth.net