Pacemaker and bypass graft

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For John S., having a good attitude about protecting his heart health was just as healing as his two cardiac surgeries. The longtime Salem resident initially had a hard time accepting that he had some significant heart issues.

“I thought I was invincible,” said John, who works as an interpreter at a Salem pediatric clinic.

He started feeling sick and initially thought it was the flu. Shortly afterward, Salinas had chest pain and severe shortness of breath. A trip to the ER revealed there were two blocked coronary arteries.

Salinas’s cardiac team implanted a pacemaker to regulate his heartbeat and then performed a coronary artery bypass graft — where a healthy artery or vein from the body is grafted to the blocked coronary artery to open blood flow.

As part of his recovery, John’s heart team included a dietitian and cardiac rehabilitation specialists. They helped him improve his diet and learn heart-healthy exercises.

“At first, I was in denial. I kept looking around at everyone else in cardiac rehab and thinking I didn’t belong here,” he said. “I wasn’t taking it seriously. But then I realized that this could cost me my life.”