Dessie Bice, a woman always on the go, made sure to practice healthy habits, including eating a balanced diet and exercising every day. She never thought that her family’s history of heart disease could impact her.
During her annual cardiovascular checkup at The Heart & Vascular Institute at The Woodlands Hospital, she told her cardiologist, Dr. Vincent Aquino, about a persistent stomach pain she had been experiencing.
“I started having just a little small nagging pain in my side, and it just wouldn't go away,” said Dessie. “It would've been there a couple of weeks. And I'd been to the gastroenterologist, and she gave me the okay.”
After explaining her pain to Dr. Aquino, he had Dessie perform a stress test on a treadmill. When the results came back normal, Dr. Aquino wanted to run one more test, an angiogram, to determine if there was something wrong.
Dr. Aquino determined that Dessie had obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD). He was able to point out two blockages in her arteries that were preventing proper blood flow to her heart.
“It was a shock because I thought I had done everything right,” said Dessie. “I thought I had eaten right, my diet. I had been very active, but I guess genetics catches up with you.”
Days later, Dessie was undergoing bypass surgery to increase blood flow throughout her body. After a successful procedure, Dr. Aquino recommended that she attend cardiac rehabilitation at The Woodlands Hospital. Dessie was uncertain, but after working her way through the program, she realized she built a supportive community and learned a lot about managing her health along the way.
“Rehab should be a part of cardiac surgery because it helps you get back to where you were,” said Dessie. “When I first went, I didn't like it at all. But as I went, it got better, and everyone was so friendly, and it was family. We looked after each other.”
Nine months after the surgery, Dessie is happy to be back to her normal routine, which includes walking four miles a day.
“My everyday life now is much better than it was,” said Dessie. “I think I'm in better shape because I'm more conscious about working out every day, what I eat. And my life is way better because I had help going through this whole process with my family.”
CHI St. Luke’s Health uses the latest surgical tools and techniques to provide high-quality cardiovascular and thoracic care to patients from all around the world. Our team of endovascular experts includes internationally recognized cardiovascular interventionalists and cardiac surgeons who continue to redefine the standard of care for patients worldwide.