Heart & Vascular Center Leadership
Jacob Shani, MD
Chair, Heart & Vascular Center
Edgar Lichstein, MD
Robert Rhee, MD
Director, Vascular & Endovascular Surgery
Greg Ribakove, MD
Director, Cardiothoracic Surgery
Yisachar Greenberg, MD
Director, Electrophysiology Lab
Alvin Greengart, MD
Director, Noninvasive Cardiology
Gerald Hollander, MD
Director, Clinical Cardiology
Norbert Moskovits, MD
Director, Heart Failure Program
Robert Frankel, MD
Director, Interventional Cardiology
Joshua Kerstein, MD
Associate Director, Clinical Cardiology
Most people think they know the signs of a heart attack. The chest pain and left arm numbness dramatically depicted in TV shows and movies are telltale signs - right?
On November 21st, 2012, Ron Feldman, 62, didn’t have sharp chest pains. Neither arm went numb. “I thought I was getting a chest cold, so I went to bed,” he states as he remembers the night before he was rushed to the Emergency Room at Maimonides Medical Center. It wasn’t until Ron woke up the next morning, nauseous and short of breath, that he knew something was wrong. “I spoke to my sister and, after hearing her concern, I called 911.” The FDNY, along with two ambulances, arrived at Ron’s house where the paramedics performed an EKG before deciding it was necessary for him to see a specialist.
According to the American Heart Association, the average person waits three hours before seeking help for heart attack symptoms, while some even wait a few days. The sooner a person can receive medical treatment, the better his or her chance of survival. “Every minute you wait to see a specialist results in more damage,” emphasizes Dr. Bilal Malik, the cardiologist who eventually performed Ron’s angioplasty.
“Arteries deliver nourishing blood to your heart. When an artery is blocked, however, the blood cannot be transported to the heart, causing the muscle to become damaged – potentially to a point beyond recovery.” Even if the heart attack itself isn’t fatal, the resulting heart damage could increase your likelihood of cardiac problems. For example, it can lead to congestive heart failure, which the American Heart Association points to as one of the reasons why 19% of men and 26% of women over the age of 45 die within 12 months of their first heart attack.
Dr. Bilal Malik is a board-certified interventional cardiologist. He has received numerous awards for his commitment to patient care, including being named a "Top Cardiologist" by Consumers' Research Council of America. Dr. Malik is credited with performing the first angioplasty in Guyana in 2007, while on a humanitarian mission.
To make an appointment, please call (718) 283-6805. To learn more about Dr. Malik, click here.
“When Mr. Feldman came in to the ER, his artery was severely clogged,” states Dr. Malik. “We had to complete an angioplasty as soon as possible in order to prevent any further damage to the heart and to save his life.” An angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure which opens the narrowed or blocked blood vessels supplying blood to the heart. “We make a tiny incision, usually near the groin, where we insert a flexible tube called a catheter, which is then guided up into the heart and arteries,” explains Dr. Malik. A tiny wire is then moved into and through the blockage. The physician pushes a balloon catheter over the wire and inflates it to either break up the blockage or aspirate the blood clot that caused the heart attack. This opens the vessel and restores blood flow to the heart. “For Ron, we placed a mesh wire tube, known as a stent, into the artery. It helps prevent the vessel from closing up again after surgery,” notes Dr. Malik.
“Going to the ER is never a fun thing to do,” states Ron, “but my experience really was extraordinary. The nurses, the doctors and everyone else were so nice!” Although having a heart attack and requiring immediate surgery is an extremely stressful and question-filled experience, Ron felt at ease. “They sat with me and clearly explained the process. The nurses and Dr. Malik were very helpful and comforting. I could tell that, not only did they know what they were doing, but they were sincerely concerned about my well-being.”
What You Should Know:
“Heart attacks can cause a wide range of symptoms, from mild to intense,” explains Dr. Malik. You should be fully aware of any and all symptoms, so that you receive the right care at the right time. Symptoms in adults may include:
- Chest pain: Often occurring in the center of the chest, lasting for more than a few minutes. The pain may come and go, and can feel like pressure, squeezing or fullness
- Cold sweats
- Numbness, aching, or tingling in the arm (usually the left arm)
- Shortness of breath
- Altered mental status, particularly in the elderly
- Weakness or fatigue, particularly in the elderly