Vicente Peña IV and Rosalinda Castro

Two open-heart surgery patients celebrate the renewal of heart health. 

“I Was Always Taken Care Of” — Vicente Peña IV 

Vicente Peña IV never thought he’d have open-heart surgery at age 44. But he is grateful for this second chance revealed that Vicente had six blockages in his arteries and would need open-heart surgery. “That was one of the scariest moments of my life,” he recalls.

But he is grateful for this second chance at good health, and eager to share what he’s learned from the experience. “I have been reborn physically and mentally,” he says of his surgery in March 2015.

For Vicente, the first sign that something was wrong started with a pain that began in his mid-section. Over a period of months, the pain got continually worse, spreading to his entire upper body. 

After an exhaustive search to identify the problem, a coronary angiography—which uses a special dye to trace blood flow through the arteries in the heart— revealed that Vicente had six blockages in his arteries and would need open-heart surgery. “That was one of the scariest moments of my life,” he recalls. 

When he woke up from his surgery, Vicente recalls being connected to many tubes and wires, but feeling no pain and being grateful to his cardiothoracic surgeon, Arthur Santos, MD, and his cardiologist, Ricardo Cigarroa, MD, for saving his life. “The support and treatment I received from beginning to end was amazing,” he says.

Vicente attributes his heart problems to his lifestyle, which he has changed by focusing on a healthy diet, exercise, not smoking and reducing stress. Also, Vicente is more aware of his family history. His dad had open-heart bypass surgery 10 years ago, and that could have been a warning. “I’m here to serve,” Vicente says, determined to share his new healthy habits with others.

“Prevention is key to winning the battle for heart health,” says Dr. Santos. “The changes that Vicente has made to his lifestyle are a living example of this and an inspiration to others.” 

"Rehab Really Helped" — Rosalinda Castro

For Rosalinda Castro, the warning signs that led to her open-heart surgery started on her routine morning walk. “All of a sudden I started feeling a tightening in my neck,” she remembers. “I tried to take a deep breath, but I couldn’t.”

As fate would have it, Rosalinda had a doctor’s appointment scheduled, and her physician immediately ordered a stress test. She would soon find out that she had three blocked arteries, including one that was significantly blocked.

“Rosalinda absolutely did the right thing by listening to her body and taking action right away,” Dr. Santos says.

Initially, the plan was to treat Rosalinda’s condition with catheterization, which involves inserting a thin tube (or catheter) into the vessel. But based on the extent of the blockage, it was later determined that Rosalinda would need open-heart surgery.

Dr. Santos performed the surgery on August 31, 2015, and days later, Rosalinda was ready to go home. “I don’t have anything but praise for Doctors Hospital,” she says. “Dr. Santos is wonderful.”

Rosalinda says a key to her recovery was completing cardiac rehab at the Heart and Vascular Center and following her doctors’ advice. She’s now back to her morning walks and feeling great. “I think my recovery was faster because of the care I received at Doctors Hospital,” she says. 

Learn more about the Heart and Vascular Center at Doctors Hospital >