Passion from purpose: Vipul R. Panchal, M.D., his story

For Vipul R. Panchal, M.D., one moment in time has shaped his career and approach to medicine, and he shares it whenever he gets the chance.

There are moments in life we forget, and others we make sure we hold in our minds forever. For Vipul R. Panchal, M.D., interventional cardiologist with Norton Heart & Vascular Institute, one moment in time has shaped his career and approach to medicine, and he shares it whenever he gets the chance.

During medical school, Dr. Panchal took a trip to a shopping mall with his wife and father. As they browsed, his father complained of heartburn. The group stopped at a yogurt shop, thinking the cold treat would offer some relief. The yogurt didn’t help, but eventually the discomfort subsided. None of them thought much of it.

About a week later, the father went to his primary care provider for a checkup. Blood tests revealed that the 55-year-old had actually been having a heart attack while at the mall. He underwent successful bypass surgery and continues medical therapy today. 

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Dr. Panchal is part of a team of more than 45 Norton Heart & Vascular Institute providers.

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“I was in total shock. I could not believe it happened right under my nose,” Dr. Panchal said. “Here I was a medical school student, and I had missed something so serious. That day I learned a humbling lesson: that a heart attack could happen to anyone at any time, and it doesn’t always look obvious. I became so curious, a career in cardiology ended up my destination.”

Besides remembering what happened to his father, Dr. Panchal is very invested in the environment of care offered to patients. He is medical director of the Norton Brownsboro Hospital Cardiac Catheterization Program.

“We try every day, as a team, to provide compassionate care and instill a sense of trust,” Dr. Panchal said. “My goal is to make sure they feel they are cared for.”

Dr. Panchal remains passionate about spreading the word about the signs of a heart attack and not to ignore them, no matter how subtle, because getting care right away could save your life.

“Time is muscle,” as the saying goes, and every minute counts when it comes to preserving the heart from damage. According to Dr. Panchal, everyone has symptoms as varied and nuanced as the patients who experience them. Anyone can have a heart attack, and feeling great doesn’t necessarily mean you are safe from an incident.

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