Care from the Heart

Cardiology/Heart Care

March 14, 2018

WHelen_z.jpgHEN it comes to taking care of yourself, Helen Diglia’s advice is: “First and foremost, you have to know your body, especially for women. Know how you feel normally and if you’ve got something funny going on, you need to act on it. Better to be safe than sorry.”

So, two years ago when Diglia was pulling wood from the woodpile, “I felt as if someone had taken a 3-inch spike and stuck it straight through me,” she says.

After an assessment at Bassett Medical Center, Dhananjai Menzies, MD, Bassett Healthcare Network interventional cardiologist, placed six stents to keep Diglia’s arteries open and blood flowing to her heart. “He told me, ‘It’s up to you what you’re going to do with your second chance.’” He also said she had the arteries of a much older person and her arteries were also extremely tiny.


“I grabbed that second chance, got busy, and I lost 75 pounds,” says the now-59-year-old Milford resident. “I learned how to eat right. I learned how to take care of myself. I exercise every day, rain or shine.”

Diglia felt good. She leads a busy life, raising a puppy, tending chickens, handcrafting and being a lector in her church.

But in spring 2017, she had vague symptoms of sore muscles and not being able to work out the way she was used to. She went to see Dr. Menzies, who, after a heart catheterization, said she needed bypass surgery, which Subashini Daniel, MD, cardiac surgeon, performed.

Diglia had a quadruple bypass and later underwent cardiac rehabilitation. “The people who run the cardiac rehab at the FoxCare Center are wonderful,” she says. “They have a great sense of humor and forward motion, and they get you moving on the right path.”

Diglia feels very fortunate about the outcome. “I can’t control my genetics, but I can control my weight, exercise, food and stress level.

“People will often tell me, ‘Oh, thank God, you’re fine!’ My response is: ‘Thank God and a great cardiologist; thank God and a phenomenal surgeon!’”

Love your heart

This time of year we’re surrounded by hearts! Unfortunately, we’re also surrounded by heart disease. It’s the leading cause of death for men and women. But it can be prevented and controlled. During heart month and every month:

Get moving. Aim for 30 minutes three times a week or more of exercise

Know your numbers. Get your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers checked. High blood pressure or too much LDL cholesterol (low density lipoprotein) can put you at risk for heart disease. Also check fasting glucose level, hemoglobin A1C and body mass index.

“While many people know their total cholesterol, it’s more important to know your LDL, because the LDL represents how much bad cholesterol is in your arteries,” says Merle Myerson, MD, board-certified lipid specialist/expert in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and program director of Bassett’s Preventive Cardiology Program & Lipid Clinic.

Consider diet and weight loss. Read labels and be a choosy shopper. Meet with a nutritionist.

Vow to quit. Smoking harms your heart and lungs and hurts your loved ones, because of exposure to secondhand smoke. Quitting is an act of love!


Winter 2018 - Article 3