Bruce Barto

Keeping the Beat

Bruce Barto 2
Fast action prevents further heart damage and saves a life

Only seven minutes after arriving at Evangelical Community Hospital’s emergency department—with sharp pain in his left arm—Bruce Barto was already connected to an electrocardiogram, or EKG. The test showed that the 59-year-old Whitehall resident was actively experiencing a heart attack due to blocked arteries, which prevented blood flow to his heart. He was immediately seen by Petra Lynch, MD, interventional cardiologist, who performed an emergency heart catheterization. Blood flow to Barto’s heart was restored within 20 minutes of his arrival.

“Time is of the essence when you’re suffering a heart attack,” Dr.Lynch explains. “The quicker we can stop the attack, the more we can protect the heart muscle and preserve heart function. Also, many of our advanced heart attack treatments are most effective during the attack’s critical early stages, so moving quickly is crucial.” 


It certainly wasn’t the day Barto had expected. Although as morning moved into afternoon, he did sense that something was off. To begin with, he awoke with indigestion. That seemed odd, since overall he was healthy. He was careful about what he ate, didn’t drink or smoke, and between a construction job and helping to run the family farm in Montgomery, he stayed quite active. So he ignored his upset stomach and went about his day. After lunch, however, his back began to ache, which also seemed unusual for someone so physically fit. Barto thought perhaps a quick nap might help matters, but as he lay down, he felt a sharp pain in his left arm.

That’s when Barto decided to go to Evangelical Community Hospital’s
emergency department—a decision that saved his life.


The procedure Barto underwent, a heart catheterization, involves an interventional cardiologist threading a long flexible tube called a catheter into a small incision in the patient’s groin or wrist, through an artery, and up to the blockage, where a balloon on the catheter tip is inflated, which opens the artery. If necessary, some blocked arteries are then treated with a stent, which is a tiny wire mesh tube that expands and is locked in place. The now-deflated balloon and catheter are removed, but the stent remains to keep the passage open and blood flowing freely.

Barto eventually needed a total of three stents, two to open one clogged artery and one to open another. Dr. Lynch also identified a partially clogged artery, but decided to see if medication and a heart-healthy diet could reduce that blockage. Keeping a close watch on her patient, Dr. Lynch decided after three months that his anginas symptoms were not sufficiently resolved. She scheduled Barto for another heart catheterization to fully open the artery.


While Barto led a healthy life prior to his heart attack, having a heart attack meant he would have to build back up to an active lifestyle. So he began attending Evangelical Community Hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, which is certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. The program provides education, exercise training, and psychosocial support for cardiac patients and their families.

“I went three times a week to complete the full program,” Barto recalls. “It’s a great program, and I even convinced my mother to go through it, since she has a history of angina. After finishing the program, my mom has a lot more strength and can do more things now.”

Today, Barto is doing great. He continues to see Dr.Lynch every six months at the Heart and Vascular Center of Evangelical. And to create the best possible treatment plan, communication lines are open and flowing with Barto’s primary care physician, too.


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