When His Heart Spoke, He Listened

At 69, Bob Lefenfeld had two COVID exercise regimes—riding his stationary bike and a fast-paced barbell workout. He would exercise at least five times a week for an hour. This spring Bob started to experience pain that made him stop and question what his body was trying to tell him.

“I was getting sharp pains in my side which initially I thought might have been my lungs,” recalls Bob. “I was also breathless and a little lightheaded. That made me unable to complete my workouts. I’m approaching 70, so you’re never sure what’s a natural occurrence and what’s not — your mind can play tricks on you.”

Bob’s primary care physician sent him to his cardiologist who was concerned and ordered a stress test. “The results of his stress test were abnormal and suggestive of disease,” recalls Eric Schwartz, M.D., a board-certified cardiologist on staff at HCGH. “We ordered a cardiac catheterization which can now be done electively at HCGH as an outpatient to check for any blockages. Patients previously were sent to other hospitals and can now get the exact same procedure done by the exact same physicians here at Howard County.”

“I was very happy to keep my care close to home— just one less level of stress,” says Bob. “The procedure went well. We were all surprised that not only was there a blockage, but the artery was 95% blocked and I needed two stents. I realized I was sort of playing with fire.

“Within two weeks, I was back on the bike—low impact. Now, I am doing everything I was before, probably even a little better. At my recent follow-up appointment, Dr. Schwartz said everything looked good and there was no damage to my heart.”

Dr. Schwartz is pleased with Bob’s progress.

Bob says, “I still have the limitations of a 70-year-old— but now I know what to look for. I have follow-up tests to make sure the clogged artery is clear and a regimen of medication. It was a good outcome and I’m ready to take on the next challenge that comes.”

If you’ve been putting off a checkup or have health care concerns, visit your doctor or hcgh.org/findadoctor to find a primary care physician or cardiologist.


This story was originally featured in the Summer 2021 issue of Wellness Matters, a publication produced by Howard County General Hospital, Johns Hopkins Medicine.