Scott Salow: Cardiac Catheterization & Open-Heart Surgery

Scott Salow is the principal at Homer Middle School and coach of their baseball team. He is also one of the youngest people to have open-heart surgery at the Allegiance Heart and Vascular Center.

Scott Salow is the principal at Homer Middle School and coach of their baseball team. He is also one of the youngest people to have open-heart surgery at the Allegiance Heart and Vascular Center. “My experience could not have been better, and I believe it has helped me appreciate my family and my students even more,” Scott said.

Two years ago, at age 39, Scott was doing yard work when he noticed pain and tingling in his left arm. “I had to take it seriously, because of my family history of heart disease,” he said. “My grandfather died of a heart attack at 38 and my dad had recently undergone open-heart surgery.”

Scott went in for a stress test, but he was unable to finish it. He was then sent to Allegiance Health for a cardiac catheterization—a test to check blood flow to and from the heart. It was determined that Scott had significant blockages in his arteries and required open-heart surgery.

“I was pretty terrified,” Scott said. “I was a young guy with a wife and two kids and had no idea how this would affect our lives.” Scott had a hard time waiting the eight days until his scheduled surgery and ended up at the Allegiance Emergency Department with an anxiety attack on day five, when he was admitted to the hospital.

“The staff at the Heart Center completely eased my mind, “ Scott recalled. “They made me feel like the most important person in the world. I had so many questions about recovery, death, quality of life, the breathing tube, you name it. They were very reassuring and never made me feel I had a stupid question.”

Cardiovascular surgeon Vincent Simonetti, MD, further boosted Scott’s confidence by “walking me through the whole process and telling me exactly what to expect,” Scott said. “I bet him I would have the shortest hospital stay of any of his patients, but I ended up missing it by one day.”

Scott and his family especially appreciated the physical plan of the Heart and Vascular Center, which allows patients to stay in the same large private room from just after surgery until they are discharged. “It was great having the same caring staff the whole time and the same state-of-the-art room,” Scott said. “Physician Assistants Chris Fegley and Ross Greenstein and the whole nursing team were amazing!”

Recovery after surgery went much better than Scott had anticipated. “It really wasn’t bad at all. But, when the doctors and nurses tell you to hold a pillow when you sneeze, take their word for it,” he laughed.

Within six weeks of surgery, Scott was back to work. “I really do appreciate everything more now—my wife and kids, my students, even the little things that used to bug me. I see it all in a new and better light,” he said. Scott’s experience has also had an impact on his wife, Cammy, a registered nurse who now works at the Allegiance Heart and Vascular Center.

The best chance of surviving a heart attack is to act quickly. Do not wait for symptoms to go away. Call 9-1-1 immediately, and chew an aspirin while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.