After decades of living with heart disease, this patient knows the value of comprehensive care

Phil Hayes credits Norton Heart & Vascular Institute for turning his life around

Phil Hayes celebrated his 77th birthday this year. It was a milestone he wasn’t sure he would get to see more than 30 years ago when a heart attack permanently damaged his heart muscle.

After having a heart attack in 1987, Phil spent the first 10 years of his recovery from emergency bypass surgery struggling to find the right treatment to get him back to feeling more like himself. So when his primary care physician referred him to the team at Norton Heart & Vascular Institute in 1997, Phil wasn’t sure what to expect.

“When I was referred to Norton Heart & Vascular Institute, the doctor immediately looked at the medications I was taking and, after examination and a catheterization to ensure I didn’t have any additional blockages or underlying problems, he changed everything,” Phil said. “It was a lifesaving event for me. I make no bones about it.”

By “changed everything,” Phil is referring to his medication. Phil’s previous physician at a different hospital told him there was nothing else that could be done for him. But Phil wasn’t about to give up.

When it comes to heart care, he’s seen just about all of it

After more than 20 years of care at Norton Heart & Vascular Institute, Phil knows what “comprehensive heart care” means. He’s tried new medications. He’s had a catheterization procedure. He got a pacemaker and defibrillator to correct his heart rhythm. Now he’s getting care for congestive heart failure.

As is often the case with long-term heart disease, Phil started to experience signs of heart failure within the past couple of years. Progressively he was losing stamina to get through everyday tasks. His heart was becoming too weak to pump blood as well as it should. He is now a patient of the Advanced Heart Failure Program led by Kelly McCants, M.D., advanced heart failure cardiologist. He routinely sees Pamela Kelly, APRN, and Elizabeth Hughes, APRN, at the Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Advanced Heart Failure Program on the Norton Audubon Hospital campus.

“Phil’s story is pretty typical. You have somebody who has an injury to their heart muscle or is diagnosed with cardiovascular disease and it changes their life,” Dr. McCants said. “Patients like Phil will start their heart recovery and management with a cardiologist who recognizes there’s an issue, such as A-fib or heart failure that requires additional care from a subspecialist.”

Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Advanced Heart Failure Program

Norton Heart & Vascular Institute is the leading provider of advanced heart failure care in Louisville and Southern Indiana.

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A collaborative approach to congestive heart failure

The specialists at the Advanced Heart Failure Program take a comprehensive view of each patient’s health. Providers from a variety of specialties — from heart failure to electrophysiology, advanced cardiac imaging and sometimes from throughout the Norton Healthcare system — collaborate to help each patient live a full life.

Diet, exercise, medication management and close monitoring all play a role in ensuring that each patient has the right plan for care for the best quality of life.

“There’s a lot that goes into taking care of each patient. At Norton Heart & Vascular Institute, you have it all in one house,” Dr. McCants said.

Today, Phil has no plans of slowing down, and his care team is helping him live the life he wants.

“I get up every morning; I continue to work, keep my Friday reservation at the racetrack, go to church and spend time with my wife of nearly 57 years. I can thank them for that,” he said. “Considering 30 years ago previous doctors were ready to give up but I’m still here — that is a big deal for me.”

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