Lake Regional Heart Month: Take Action For Your Heart

Rose Green-Flores
Lake Regional Health
Zubair Khan, M.D., FACC

John Buckingham, 70, felt his health gradually declining but chalked it up to getting older. His wife noticed that he ran out of energy more quickly, and it was true; he was exhausted by the afternoon. However, it was not until Buckingham started having chest pains that he knew he needed to take action.

“I have been a patient of Dr. Khan at Lake Regional Heart and Vascular for about six years, so when the chest pain started, I knew not to delay seeking medical care,” Buckingham said. “Chest pain isn’t something to be brushed off.” 

At Lake Regional Hospital, Buckingham had multiple tests performed at the Cardiac Cath Lab to determine the issue and what steps should be taken. Buckingham, a military retiree, had plaque building up in his coronary arteries, which was limiting his blood flow. Cardiologist Zubair Khan, M.D., FACC, recommended angioplasty and cardiac stenting. 

“A cardiac stent is used to treat narrowed or blocked coronary arteries,” Dr. Khan said. “A stent is a small wire mesh tube that props the artery open, decreasing the chance of it becoming blocked again. Angioplasty is a procedure that flattens plaque against the artery wall, and it is often used alongside stenting to help keep vessels open.” 

Not long after his tests, Buckingham underwent surgery with Dr. Khan for two stent placements. 

“Everyone went above and beyond for me,” Buckingham said of the Lake Regional team. “They kept my wife informed too and treated us like family, as if they had known us forever.”  

Thankfully, Buckingham regained his strength after only one week at home. And he quickly noticed a difference to his health, which did not surprise Dr. Khan. 

“Many patients immediately observe a positive difference after stent placements,” Dr. Khan said. “The stents improve blood flow, which improves chest pain, shortness of breath and fatigue.” 

Buckingham also followed the recommendation of Dr. Khan and enrolled in Lake Regional’s Cardiac Rehabilitation program.

“I feel like the stents and rehab helped me get my life back,” Buckingham said. “I’ve always been busy, but now I have the energy to do what I need to do. I have a better outlook on life, and I feel almost 10 years younger.”

Buckingham hopes his story will inspire other people to prioritize their heart health. He also wants to spread the message that age should not stop someone from seeking the medical care they need. 

“Pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you, and keep track of your symptoms,” Buckingham said. “As you get older, you shouldn’t assume that this is as good as it gets. If you need to get something fixed, then do so. Don’t let your age stop you from thinking you can make health improvements.” 

Dr. Khan is a member of a comprehensive heart care team at Lake Regional Health System. This team includes interventional cardiologists and a cardiovascular-thoracic surgeon, as well as registered nurses and X-ray technologists who specialize in heart care. As a Level II STEMI Center, Lake Regional is equipped to provide timely, definitive heart attack care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Learn more at lakeregional.com/heartcare.