Nearly 1 out of 4 deaths in Texas are due to heart disease.

 38,782 Texans died from heart disease in 2006 (24.7 percent of total deaths in Texas)


Michael Alston

First, Michael Alston was not feeling very well so, he visited Dr. Jonathan Greifenkamp, MD, FACC, FSCAI, who is an Interventional Cardiologist and director of Longview Regional Medical Center’s (LRMC) Vein Center.

Greifenkamp is board certified in internal medicine and cardiology as well as interventional cardiology. He is licensed in nuclear medicine and echocardiography as well as expert in peripheral intervention, and is the only doctor in the area trained in carotid stenting.

After running several stress tests Greifenkamp remained uncertain of the problem. After submitting to one more test, Alston knew with Greifenkamp’s facial expression, something was wrong. He told his patient a stent was impossible because Alston had a blockage in his left anterior descending artery (LAD,) a condition also known as a “widow maker.”

As this alias indicates this is a deadly condition. Greifenkamp recommended to Alston that he visit Dr. David Jayakar. Alston had read about this renowned surgeon. Alston’s father had also suffered a heart attack, and someone like Jayakar could be just what the doctor ordered. Still, Alston later recounted, “Prayer kept me going.”

Jayakar and his team worked on this new patient on a Friday morning. He was in ICU for eight hours, and Alston checked out of the ICU Sunday feeling as fresh and whole as the Sabbath. His wife Lisa made her heartfelt feeling clear.

“We are so lucky in Longview to have LRMC and doctors like Jayakar and his team,” she said. “There is no need going to Dallas or Houston. It is all here in our town with Longview Regional, Jayakar and his team.”

Alston was impressed not only with Jayakar’s surgical skill, but with his ability to interact favorably with his heart patients.

“He gave me his cell phone number so I can call him directly,” he said. “And I did.”

Sure enough, after going home, a few days later, Alston underwent a spell of feeling poorly, and phoned Jayakar, who told him to get to the hospital immediately. He met Alston in the emergency room.

Alston was equally impressed with Jayakar’s team. He and Lisa own the Parke Way Fitness Center, and some of Jayakar’s team members work out there. They always ask after his well-being and check him over even though he has long since left the hospital.

Alston is delighted with the treatment he has received. It was so much better than his father’s.

“They cut his chest open,” he said. “He was in the hospital for 3 1/2 months.”

A year later, a staph infection sent him back to the hospital. Also, the huge scars left by the invasive surgery continue to be a menace. The doctors have to go in sometimes and try to take them out.

“How medicine has changed,” said Alston.

“And we are lucky to have good medicine and Dr. Jayakar right here in our town.”

Lisa agrees and looks at health education for the public as key in avoiding death by heart trouble.

“People need to know the signs of heart attack,” she said. “And also know that we have excellent surgeons like Jayakar to take care of it.”

The couple also lavished praise of Dr. Saikin, an internist on Jayakar’s team.

“He is really, really good,” she said. “They are all very good at what they do.”