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Paying it Forward After Life-Saving Triple Bypass Surgery

Isabel Kearns

Isabel Kearns is very aware of the importance of having a healthy heart. In addition to a family history of heart disease, the former office manager worked at a cardiology practice for a number of years.

Following life-saving triple bypass surgery, credited with saving her life, Isabel has made it her mission to raise awareness about women’s heart health.

Unexpected Diagnosis

In July 2019, Isabel started experiencing neck pain and shortness of breath.

“I noticed some shortness of breath and a pain on the right side of my neck when I was gardening. Then it happened again when I was out grocery shopping,” she said.

The following week, Isabel had an appointment with Marc C. Cohen, MD, cardiologist, Abington Hospital, and she underwent a stress test.

Isabel was surprised to learn that she had three blocked coronary arteries. Her left anterior descending artery (LAD), which supplies blood to the front of the heart, was 90 percent blocked.

“Though her symptoms were somewhat atypical, her stress test was markedly abnormal. It led us to recommend diagnostic catheterization, which revealed that she had severe coronary artery disease,” said Dr. Cohen.

Life Saving Surgery

Isabel was scheduled for triple bypass surgery with Rohinton J. Morris, MD, chief, Cardiothoracic Surgery Division, Jefferson Health.

“This happened very unexpectedly and I was scared. Dr. Morris is a very calm, skilled surgeon and he helped put my mind at ease,” Isabel said.

“Mrs. Kearns asked a lot of questions, which is always very important because the more patients know, the better prepared they can be,” said Dr. Morris.

After surgery, Isabel spent four days in the hospital before being released to a rehabilitation facility.

“Had it not been for Dr. Cohen and Dr. Morris, I was surely headed for a heart attack. I believe they saved my life,” she said.

Isabel also credits the strong support of her family with helping her through this experience. “Recovery from a serious surgery comes down to the support and prayers of family. Members of my family were always in the room while I was in the CCU. I was never alone,” she said.

Paying it Forward

In the months since her surgery, Isabel successfully completed Abington - Jefferson Health’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program.

“I finished Cardiac Rehab at the end of October. I credit the four nurses I had with getting me strong again,” said Isabel. “The Cardiac Rehab Program is yet another shining example of the excellent care I received at Abington.”

The comprehensive program includes exercise, education, counseling and support for patients who have suffered from a heart attack or other heart condition, and those who have undergone cardiac surgery.

Isabel has also made a commitment to pay it forward and be an advocate for women’s heart health by sharing her experience in hopes of helping others.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in women, with 1 in 3 deaths each year. Individuals, like Kearns, with a family history of heart disease are at a higher risk.

“I’ve learned a lot from my experience and it’s important for us to educate ourselves,” Isabel said. “I know that there are many women that don’t know this information so I feel obligated to get the message out. I want women to know that our hearts count, too.”

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