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Cutting-edge treatment for heart disease

October 16, 2013

After battling heart disease for more than two decades, Jim Whitaker underwent bypass surgery to repair and replace all of his diseased arteries. "My quality of life went from 20 to 100 percent," he said.

Jim Whitaker has battled heart disease for more than two decades. In 1990, at age 40, he underwent his first bypass surgery at Duke.  He did well for more than 20 years, but in 2011, his feelings of fatigue and breathlessness returned.

When Whitaker met with Duke cardiologist E. Magnus Ohman, MD, he was experiencing chest pain. Tests showed extensive heart damage and the need for more aggressive treatment.  Ohman, working with Duke heart surgeon Carmelo Milano, MD, evaluated Whitaker for a hybrid revascularization. This procedure combines bypass surgery with the use of stents to repair and replace all of the diseased arteries.

Whitaker’s procedures went well.  “I had surgery on Friday and was up and walking Friday evening,” he says. “Recovery at Duke rocks,” he says. “They take good care of you.” He was home in three days.

Whitaker says he lives today without limitations. “My quality of life went from 20 to 100 percent,” he says. “I have a lot of life left to live. Ohman and Milano have kept me going.”

Duke cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons collaborate to perform about 20 hybrid revascularizations each year, an approach available only at major academic medical centers.

Learn more about heart bypass surgery at Duke

Heart bypass