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“My situation is a perfect example of the benefits of seeing your doctor for checkups,” he said. “Had I not gone to see Dr. D’Agate, I might not be here today.”

Father of three, Spyros Papacostas always worked to keep himself in good shape. Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet, the 50-year-old Westbury resident told himself he was feeling well and did not need to visit a doctor.

But with a family history of heart problems and encouragement from his wife and friends, Papacostas made an appointment in January 2020 with Catholic Health Cardiologist David D’Agate, DO, for what he thought would be a regular checkup.

Due to Papacostas’ family history, Dr. D’Agate recommended a coronary calcium scan. The quick, non-invasive test provides images of the heart that measure calcified (hard) plaque build-up in the arteries, allowing doctors to identify blockages that can cause heart attacks before patients become symptomatic.

When Dr. D’Agate saw severe blockages in Papacostas’ test results, he recommended Papacostas immediately go to Good Samaritan Hospital for treatment. Doctors at the West Islip medical center placed two stents in his heart to alleviate the problem.

“I was in a bad situation. Looking back, I feel like I was a dead man walking,” he said. “But Dr. D’Agate saved my life.”

Papacostas said, while dealing with a difficult situation, Dr. D’Agate was able to convey the seriousness of his condition in a way that was easy to understand. He also lauded the team at Good Samaritan for the level of care and comfort they provided, recalling the actions of one nurse in particular.

“I had one night where I was hot and then I was cold, and the staff went out of their way to help me feel more comfortable,” Papacostas said. “One of the nurses came into my room and spent time speaking with me and held my hand. After a few minutes, my anxiety went away. It was the best medicine that I received.”

Now fully recovered and feeling great, Papacostas looks back and says that while he has long been committed to exercise and eating well, he ignored some warning signs.

“When I would workout, now and then I would feel like I was having some chest pains, but they would go away,” he said. “That should have been a clear warning sign that I was on the road to having a heart attack.”

Now, Papacostas wants to be an inspiration to other men who may be reluctant to visit their doctor for an annual exam.

“My situation is a perfect example of the benefits of seeing your doctor for checkups,” he said. “Had I not gone to see Dr. D’Agate, I might not be here today.”

June is National Men’s Health Month and Papacostas’ experiences show why annual physicals and preventive testing are important, especially for men who often minimize or ignore their symptoms.

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