Less than two months after open-heart surgery, Charlie Smith was enjoying his first day back at work. His dedication and commitment to changing his lifestyle, and a great heart team, helped get him back there a lot sooner than predicted.
Smith had two major priorities: take care of his health and to be around for his family.
The heart health focus wasn't new to Smith - it was actually something he was all too familiar with.
“My dad had a triple by-pass, my uncle on my father’s side had a quadruple by-pass and both of my grandfathers had heart issues,” he says.
With heart disease prevalent on both sides of his family, Smith knew there could be potential issues in his future.
But, it wasn't until a routine dentist visit that Smith started to take notice.
Taking Notice and Making Changes
“At a dental visit my dentist told me my blood pressure was high,” he says. “It was then that I started on blood pressure medication and began to get my blood pressure under control.”
“Because of my family history, I took notice,” he says.
The blood pressure reading wasn't the only factor that made Smith take notice. After a negative stress test, he quit smoking and changed his work environment.
“I have worked in the restaurant industry since 1973,” he says. “It is a stressful, yet enjoyable, environment and doesn't always make for the healthiest food decisions.”
For the next 10 years, Smith worked diligently on maintaining his health. Annual visits with his primary care physician and cardiologist, Peter L. Duffy, M.D., kept his health, and heart, in line.
And then another stress test in 2014 resulted in his second heart catheterization. Progressive blockage was noticed, and there was only one option left for Smith.
Smith chose heart surgery through FirstHealth of the Carolinas’ Reid Heart Center.
The successful procedure was performed July 8, 2014 by Art Edgerton, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon, who called Smith the night before the surgery to check in on him and confirm to Smith that he was in good hands.
“Our open-heart program at Reid Heart Center was well-designed,” Dr. Edgerton says. “Our staff was selected carefully to ensure we have superior quality for patient care, and we have the most up-to-date equipment for standard open-heart or bypass surgery. We've had excellent outcomes.”
Life after Open Heart Surgery
Smith says his experience at Reid Heart Center was phenomenal. “The quality of care was the best I have ever received,” he says. “They treated me more like a family member than a patient. From the nurses to the surgeons – everyone helped turn a scary experience into a great one.”
“The heart pillow given to me still sits in my house,” he says.
It reminds him of the care he received.
And the quality experience after surgery has been just as good.
Smith began Cardiac Rehab and Exercise is Medicine, a program offered by FirstHealth Fitness, to help him make successful and lasting lifestyle changes.
He walks regularly, works out at FirstHealth Fitness in Pinehurst, rides his bike and goes to the neighborhood park with his son, Gray.
He has cut down on bread, sweets and red meat and has learned to completely change his eating habits.
“Working as a manager at Panera has helped me change my diet,” he says. “It has been easy making healthier food choices because of their menu.”
He also has more stamina at work.
His new outlook on life has resulted in a more than 40-pound weight loss, and more confidence in himself.
“When you go through something like this, it changes you,” he says. “My body functions better, because I am taking care of it. I am more cautious now. I want to take care of myself for my family: my wife, son, daughters and grandchildren.”
Charlie Smith with son, Gray, and wife, Lisa, just a few days after open-heart surgery, July 2014.
Charlie Smith, with son, Gray, and wife, Lisa, during Christmas 2014. Smith had lost nearly 40 pounds by Christmas.
Smith's heart pillow provided by Reid Heart Center. The pillow still sits in his house as a reminder of the quality and exceptional care he received at Reid Heart Center.
Understand the importance of heart health long after National Heart Month.
Click here for more information on Reid Heart Center.
Click here for more information on services provided by FirstHealth Fitness.
You can also call (800) 213-3284 for more information on all services available at FirstHealth and Reid Heart Center.