The Value of Listening
Doris Diaz' cardiovascular history has not been easy. Diaz, 68, who recently moved to Seattle from Pennsylvania, had lived for years with uncontrolled high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both of which ran in her family. She had suffered several strokes, caused by a 99% blockage in the carotid artery in her neck. She had undergone a difficult surgery to clear the artery, followed by complications that left her frustrated, confused and traumatized. "They just couldn't seem to get it right," says Diaz.
Even after surgery, Diaz was plagued by fatigue. Her son asked her to see a doctor, but before she could, she was struck one day with pressure in her chest, shortness of breath and a tremor in her arm.
At Northwest Hospital's emergency room, the staff evaluated Diaz and called in Summit Cardiology's Dr. Chetan Pungoti. Dr. Pungoti explained to Diaz that her blood pressure was dangerously high and needed to be brought down or she risked having another stroke.
"Dr. Pungoti spent so much time with me," says Diaz. "He is such a great doctor because he really listens! He's kind and caring. I wish there were more doctors with that kind of compassion."
Several months have passed and Dr. Pungoti has succeeded in bringing Diaz's blood pressure under control with proper medications. Many of her symptoms have resolved and she feels much better overall.
Dr. Pungoti is also addressing Diaz's high cholesterol. Due to sensitivities, she cannot take regular cholesterol medications, or "statins," typically used for controlling cholesterol levels. "It makes things a little more complicated, but we're working to find other solutions," says Dr. Pungoti. In the meantime, Diaz says she's trying to live a healthier lifestyle.
"I walk for exercise. I take aspirin, along with fish oil, and I'm trying to eat healthier too – more egg whites, vegetables and fruits. My son tells me I'm looking better and I feel wonderful!"
Dr. Pungoti sees Diaz regularly and monitors her arteries for any new or worsening blockages. He says it's all about giving his patients the best chance to live an active, fulfilling life.
"We encourage our patients to take care of themselves by communicating with us and being active in their own care," he says. "Even if you have chronic medical conditions like high blood pressure or heart disease, if you're careful, seek medical care and get put on appropriate medications with modifications of nutrition and exercise, your quality of life can improve dramatically."