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Cardiac patient thanked medical teams that saved his life

This Thanksgiving avid bowlers, Salvatore and Cynthia Panzarella won’t be bowling a turkey (three strikes in a row) or making one -- instead they will be relaxing at home after experiencing a life-changing event. However, before they celebrate all that they are thankful for, Sal, 55, and Cynthia returned to Catholic Health’s Mercy Hospital to thank the medical teams that saved Sal’s life.

Cath and ED Team

On November 8, 2022, Sal suffered a heart attack. That morning Sal got to work at 5:00 am and by 7:00 am he began to feel a tingling sensation in his shoulders. By 9:00 am the feeling had traveled down to his fingers. Sal, who works in Brooklyn, waited for his coworker to arrive to cover his shift (9:45 am) and drove himself home to Lynbrook. Thankfully, Cynthia was home and sprang into action and drove Sal directly to Mercy’s Emergency Department (ED).

In the ED, the triage nurse recognized Sal could be having a heart attack and within four minutes of his arrival performed an EKG, which confirmed the nurse’s suspicion. The team activated a Code STEMI to ensure Sal received life-saving intervention as soon as possible as “time is muscle.” In less than 20 minutes, Sal was in the St. Francis Heart Center Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Mercy Hospital where a team of doctors and nurses were ready for his arrival. Sal received a balloon angioplasty that cleared the blockage and reestablished blood flow to his heart, as well as three stents. His door-to-balloon time of 38 minutes beats the national requirement of 90 minutes.

Sal considers himself relatively healthy and active wants people to know that having a heart attack does not feel the same for everyone. “I wasn’t experiencing crushing chest pain so I wasn’t too worried. Knowing what I know now, I’m beyond thankful for my wife for taking me to Mercy and to the doctors and nurses for ultimately saving my life.”

Sal cannot wait to get back to work because he says he “has too much time to spare”, and, more importantly, back on the lanes to bowl his heart out! While Dr. Yadav has not cleared him to bowl, the team surprised Sal with a set of inflatable bowling pins, which are right up his alley while he fully recovers.

Catholic Health offers nationally recognized heart and vascular care programs at St. Francis Heart Center. Now available at more locations, St. Francis Heart Center gives the community access to comprehensive cardiac care—from preventive care to cardiac surgery—no matter where one lives on Long Island.  In addition to Mercy, the St. Francis Heart Center has already expanded its nationally recognized cardiovascular expertise to Good Samaritan University Hospital in West Islip, St. Catherine of Siena Hospital in Smithtown and coming soon to St. Joseph Hospital in Bethpage.

For more information about cardiac and vascular care at Catholic Health, visit https://www.chsli.org/heart-vascular-care.

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