Advanced Heart & Vascular Care Keeps Octogenarian Going Strong
Santo “Sam” Iacono loves life. And thanks to decades-long care at Lancaster General Health, along with a commitment to healthy living, this 83-year-old is more active than many people half his age.
The former owner of Sam’s Pizza, a once iconic landmark on Columbia Avenue in Lancaster City, uses his well-honed cooking skills to prepare his own healthy meals of fish, chicken, and “lots of greens.”
He spends at least a half hour each day working out in the family room he converted to a gym, maintains his own one-acre yard, and serves as handyman at properties he manages.
This is pretty impressive for any octogenarian, much less one who has undergone quadruple bypass surgery, valve replacement, and two carotid artery procedures to prevent stroke; the most recent being performed via a new, minimally invasive procedure that reduces operative risks—at age 82.
“I like to live,” says Sam, who established roots in Lancaster after emigrating from Italy in the early 1960s. “I want to enjoy my kids and grandkids.”
Long Relationships with Lancaster General Health
Sam credits physicians at Lancaster General Health for “saving my life,” several times over. His primary care physician, Dr. William Roberts at Family Medicine Abbeyville, has monitored Sam’s health for years, referring him to specialists at The Heart Group of Lancaster General Health to treat his heart disease.
Carotid Artery Disease—Advances in Treatment
In 1997, Sam was first diagnosed with carotid artery disease. This buildup of cholesterol plaque in one or both of the major blood vessels in the neck can restrict blood flow to the brain and lead to stroke. Sam underwent a procedure called carotid endarterectomy to remove the plaque in the carotid artery on the right side of his neck.
Fast forward to Fall 2018 when The Heart Group’s Dr. Todd Wood discovered a blockage in Sam’s left carotid artery. This time, due to his age and the severity of the blockage, Sam was a candidate for a more minimally invasive stenting procedure called TCAR, or TransCarotid Artery Revascularization.
A Team Approach to Treatment
Dr. Wood and Dr. Meghan Dermody, a vascular surgeon with the Lancaster General Health Physicians Surgical Group, team up to perform the TCAR procedure, using an advanced system that temporarily reverses blood flow away from the brain while a stent is inserted to open up the narrowed carotid artery. Reversing blood flow and filtering it outside the body prevents any fragments of plaque that may become loose during the procedure from entering the brain. This reduces the risk of a stroke occurring during the procedure. The minimal dissection also decreases the risk of local nerve injury and is easier to recover from for many patients.
Sam went home the next day and never missed a beat in his active life.
“I’m a walking miracle,” he smiles, as he approaches 10 minutes on his treadmill…not winded at all.