February 21, 2019 by John Fernandez
He Started Exercising 3 Weeks After Open-Heart Surgery: ‘I Really Feel Grateful’ (Video)
Without any apparent symptoms, Antonios Chondros suffered from a heart condition that required open-heart surgery at Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute. Ready to resume his normal life, he is excited to have participated this month in the 2018 American Heart Association Miami-Dade Heart Walk only two months after his life-changing procedure.
“I am excited to be at the Heart Walk … you feel you can contribute to the community,” he said. “You can support the rest of the people who will have the surgery. You can spread the word that this is not something extra difficult.”
Years ago, one of Mr. Chondros’ cardiologists discovered he had a heart murmur and a bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) that was also causing an aortic aneurysm. The BAV is an aortic valve that only has two leaflets, instead of three. The aortic valve is one of four valves that regulate blood flow through the heart. Mr. Chondros’ condition evolved to a point that he needed open-heart surgery.
The procedure was performed by Allan S. Stewart, M.D. (pictured above with Mr. Chondros), chief of cardiac surgery at Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute. Mr. Chondros said Dr. Stewart was the only doctor who said that his heart valve could be repaired.
(Watch Now. The Baptist Health News Team hears from Antonios Chondros about his life-changing heart surgery and recovery. Video by Alcyene Almeida Rodrigues.)
He recalls what Dr. Stewart told him: “There is no reason for replacement, or metallic valve or a tissue valve. I will fix your valve. We’ll fix the aneurysm.” That statement gave Mr. Chondros the confidence he needed. “Since I met him (Dr. Stewart), I said: This is it. I will do it with him.”
Mr. Chondros has always enjoyed exercising and loves playing tennis. But over the last year and a half, these activities have been forbidden by his doctors. Only three weeks after the open-heart procedure, he started going back to the gym. “I really feel grateful that right now I can resume the life that I had a few years ago,” he says. “I feel really nice about this.”
Mr. Chondros attended the 2018 Miami Heart Walk with his wife and son to help raise funds for cardiovascular disease. “It’s been two months after the surgery, and it is great that, you know, you feel normal again.”
“Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of all Americans,” said Marcus St. John, M.D., an interventional cardiologist and medical director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab with Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute at Baptist Hospital of Miami, and this year’s Baptist Health Champion for Heart Walk. “Like the AHA, Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, which is a Baptist Health South Florida Center of Excellence, is dedicated to eradicating heart and vascular disease through efforts like this.”
Aortic aneurysms were the primary cause of 9,863 U.S. deaths in 2014, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The condition can be described as a balloon-like bulge in the aorta, the large artery that carries blood from the heart through the chest and torso.
Signs and symptoms of thoracic aortic aneurysm can include:
- Sharp, sudden pain in the chest or upper back.
- Shortness of breath.
- Trouble breathing or swallowing.
Risk factors for aortic aneurysm include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Atherosclerosis (hardened arteries)
Once again, Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute was a Signature Sponsor for the Heart Walk. The American Heart association set a goal to raise $575,000 in 2018. The goal for 2020 is to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent, while reducing deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke by 20 percent.