My OHSU Heart Story - by Jim

Jim Zupancic's Cardiac Rehab StoryAbout a year ago, I suffered a heart attack - 99 percent of my lateral descending artery was blocked. I was taken to a local hospital, where I received a stent that saved my life. But afterwards I continued to suffer heart pain. I was referred to Dr. Joaquin Cigarroa at OHSU.

Dr. Cigarroa practices what I’d call “old-fashioned medicine.” And by that, I mean he listens. He cares. I think we have become so technology-dependent that if something doesn’t show on a digital reading, it doesn’t exist. Dr. Cigarroa listened to me describe symptoms the tests weren’t revealing - and he diagnosed that I had other blockages. This is the art and science of heart care, and what separates good and great doctors.

As a result of his diagnosis, I had four additional stents put in, for a total of five. My wife and I have five adult children, and we joke that I have a stent named for each child. Those additional stents, along with cardiac rehab and continuing care has allowed me to resume a productive lifestyle.

I can’t say enough about OHSU's cardiac rehab program and staff. They’re fantastic. They deal not only with the physical issues, but the educational and emotional as well. As hard as it is to admit it, a heart attack is an extremely emotional thing, even for us guys. I have a number of degrees on my wall, but the one I received when graduating from cardiac rehab is my most valuable.

We all have a choice how we are going to live our lives. My heart attack and time in cardiac rehab motivated me to make changes in mine. I haven’t had a piece of red meat since my heart attack, and I don’t miss it. I’ve been able to resume working. I try to stay active by walking, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and playing tennis. My 2013 resolution is to make the time to move even more.

Without Dr. Cigarroa and his team’s intervention, my life would have been significantly different. I can’t praise them enough. Their care has given me a lease on life I wouldn’t have had otherwise.


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