Patient Story: Heart Attack and Bypass Surgery – Don’t Ignore Your Symptoms

Dan Surprenant is a 50-year-old estate-planning attorney. Although he confesses he may be “somewhat out of shape,” he is regularly active and leads a bustling career as the Managing Partner of Surprenant & Beneski, P.C.

On a routine Sunday morning, he decided to play a game of Paddle Tennis, something he had been doing regularly in recent years. During the second set, he felt increasing tightness in his chest, enough to stop before the next game. He tried shaking off the pain and drove home. Shortly after arriving home, with symptoms worsening, Dan’s wife drove him to the hospital. Subsequently, Dan learned he suffered from a heart attack and now faced a quadruple bypass surgery. 

“I should have stopped playing tennis earlier and gone to the ER … when it became more severe, I should have called 911,” he says today.

When Dan arrived at Charlton Memorial Hospital, the chest pain was increasing and becoming more severe. The physicians and staff worked quickly, trying to manage his pain and symptoms with medication. Shortly after his arrival, he underwent interventional surgery. The procedure placed a balloon in his heart to improve its ability to pump while waiting to have a quadruple bypass. 

“The nurses were all very attentive and informative,” he says. “They kept my spirits up, making sure I knew what my recovery would look like and managing my pain.” He also mentions his “wonderful and experienced” cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. G (Iraklis Gerogiannis, MD, of the Southcoast Cardiovascular Center at Charlton Memorial). “He was great at explaining things, to both my wife and me. He was thorough and reassuring.” 

Dan’s surgery was successful, but left him feeling both fragile and reflective. How could something like this happen to him? How could he have been better prepared? 

“My father had quadruple bypass surgery at age 65, so I knew I was genetically predisposed to blockage, but certainly did not think I had to worry about it just yet, at age 50,” he says. “In hindsight, which is always 20/20, I did feel occasional and mild tightness in my chest when doing cardiovascular exercise. I shrugged it off, thinking that this is how one feels when they are somewhat out of shape and 50.”

He adds, “If you’re in similar circumstances, don’t ignore it. Stress every detail to your doctor and take it seriously. … Life can be fragile and unpredictable; don’t ignore your symptoms and prepare for unfavorable situations in advance, to better your outcome and the lives of those you love.” 

Click here learn more about the Southcoast Center for Cardiovascular Care at Charlton Memorial.

Southcoast Health reminds you: Don’t let COVID-19 prevent you from receiving the emergency care you need. If you have or suspect you have an acute cardiovascular issue, do not ignore your symptoms. The Southcoast Center for Cardiovascular Care at Charlton Memorial encourages you to please contact your provider as soon as any symptoms appear, and they will determine the next steps.

You may be evaluated via telehealth or asked to come in for an office visit.

If you are experiencing severe symptoms of chest pain or having difficulty breathing, please call 911. If you have a medical emergency, please go to the nearest emergency department.