David Modica

Ariel runs with Team SCH after successful heart surgery


Ariel Tolentino is happy to be alive. Following a quintuple coronary artery bypass graft surgery, he’s accomplished more than he ever thought possible, including becoming a marathoner. Most recently, he ran the Chicago Half Marathon with Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation’s Team SCH.

On February 2014, before a scheduled medical mission in the Philippines, Ariel completed his annual doctor’s visit with Maria L. Geraldine Omiotek, M.D., a board-certified family medicine physician and a member of the medical staff at Swedish Covenant Hospital.

“I noticed I was easily fatigued at that time and my weight was a bit on the heavy side,” said Ariel. “I was a little worried because my family has a medical history of cardiovascular disease. At the clinic, an ECG revealed results compatible with ischemia. My blood work showed a serum cholesterol of 332 and an abnormal lipid profile.”

Ariel was referred to Muhammad Akbar, M.D., a board-certified interventional cardiologist and a part of the medical staff at Swedish Covenant Hospital, who ordered further testing. A stress echocardiograph showed ischemic changes probably secondary to coronary vessel stenosis and an angiogram revealed blockage in five coronary arteries.

“Dr. Akbar advised me to cancel my flight and my group continued the medical missions without me,” said Ariel. “I was immediately admitted through the ER for a bypass surgery. The staff at the hospital was very accommodating, warm and competent. In just a brief moment, all IVs and monitors were connected and I was taken to the surgical floor.”

The following day, Ariel had a quintuple coronary artery bypass graft with transmyocardial laser revascularization performed by Ronald Curran, M.D., a board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon with Swedish Covenant Medical Group. The surgery was completed on time without complications.

“Following surgery, I began cardiac rehabilitation at Galter LifeCenter which ironically began on Valentine’s day,” said Ariel. “The therapy sessions included closely monitored cardio and stretching exercises, muscle strengthening and patient education. I exercised regularly about 45 minutes daily, ate healthy, maintained a good weight and had good compliance with intake of all my medications. Eventually, all my laboratory results normalized!”

Ariel was able to return to his role as director of nursing at Fairmont Care Centre and continued to perform duties as a primary care physician for his annual medical missions in the Philippines through an outreach group he founded: the League of Volunteers for Relief Expeditions.

“I am truly very thankful for the excellent holistic care I obtained from the interdisciplinary cardiac team at Swedish Covenant Hospital. They are at the forefront of health care and work wonders in cardiac surgery and rehabilitation. Since my surgery, I have completed 17 running events which include three full marathons. I never imagined this would be possible!”

Ariel continues to advocate and inspire others to maintain healthy lifestyles to prevent cardiovascular and other debilitating illnesses.

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