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James Killen is an active member of his community and is strongly committed to staying fit. The Immediate Past President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians St. Patrick’s Division 2 in Babylon, the West Islip native and his wife, Adrian, have an exercise regimen that includes walking more than 20 miles weekly along south shore beaches.

“We do the right things, including eating healthy and visiting our doctors for annual checkups,” Killen said.

But an event involving his neighbor made Killen return to his cardiologist, Wilbur Asheld, DO, at Catholic Health’s St. Francis Hospital/South Bay Cardiovascular for a visit and some additional testing.

“As I pulled into my driveway, I noticed my neighbor receiving CPR from his adult son. He was about my age and seemingly in good shape, but sadly passed away that day from a heart attack,” he said. “Seeing what happened and losing my friend so suddenly really shook me.” 

Killen’s decision to return to Dr. Asheld may have saved his life. Results from a Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography (CCTA) revealed several blockages in his heart. The test involves injecting iodine-containing contrast material and using CT scanning to check for narrowing of the heart’s arteries. A total of four blockages were found, one at 95% and three at 90%.

“I was amazed. I felt great and didn’t have any of the typical warning signs that something could be wrong,” he said. “If I did have a heart attack, there’s a good chance I would not have survived.”

The day after receiving his test results, Killen was admitted to Catholic Health’s St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center® in Roslyn under the care of Catholic Health’s and St. Francis’s Chief of Cardiology Richard Shlofmitz, MD. Still trying to process the news he received the prior day, Killen was put at ease knowing Dr. Shlofmitz would be providing care and treatment. Killen received four stents.

“He has a wonderful bedside manner,” Killen said of Dr. Shlofmitz. “As I was being wheeled in for my procedure, he was very reassuring. I knew I was in great hands.”

Killen is thankful for the care he received from Dr. Shlofmitz and the medical team at St. Francis. He praised everyone he came in contact with during his time at the hospital.

“Everyone made me feel as if I was the most important patient that day,” he recalled. “They were friendly and put me at ease. I can’t thank the St. Francis team enough for the care they provided.”

Today, Killen maintains an active lifestyle and has also noticed some “minor aches and pains” have diminished.

“Before my procedure, I would get pain in my feet and headaches when I would exercise. But both have gone away,” he said. “The doctors attribute this to the return of proper blood flow to my heart.”

Killen wants to share his story with all who listen.  He’s hopeful that others will find inspiration in his story and visit their doctors.

“I feel very fortunate,” Killen said. “I encourage everyone to get their annual checkups, even if they feel fine. It’s a decision that could save your life.”

Call 866-MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362) to find a Catholic Health physician near you.

Learn more about cardiology services at Catholic Health.

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