Skip Milotzky: Coronary Artery Disease

Over the summer of 2021, Dennis “Skip” Milotzky started feeling short of breath. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and began treatment for it, but also had an MRI and an angiogram during his stay at United Hospital.

Much to Skip’s surprise, the angiogram showed that his coronary arteries were 90 percent blocked. The condition is referred to as multi-vessel coronary artery disease when more than one coronary artery is affected by blockages, and the condition can be challenging to treat with conventional techniques and tools. Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.

“I got scared after learning how occluded my coronary arteries were, because I was like a walking time bomb,” said Skip, age 81.

When a doctor at the hospital said there was nothing they could do for his condition and he would die from it, Skip’s wife Rosemary, a retired nurse, insisted he see a cardiac specialist. Fortunately, Dr. Peter Eckman, a cardiologist and researcher at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation® (MHIF), happened to be working at the hospital that day. Dr. Eckman’s research colleagues in MHIF’s Center for Coronary Artery Disease have built a world-class reputation for innovative research on coronary artery disease and life-saving treatments for even the most complex cases of blocked arteries.

“Dr. Eckman came over right away and spent a good 35 or 45 minutes with us and put us much more at ease when he said, ‘No, we can take care of this,’” Skip said.

In September 2021, Skip underwent a complex percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) at Abbott Northwestern Hospital where he received five stents. The procedure was performed by Dr. Emmanouil Brilakis, who serves as chairman for the Center for Coronary Artery Disease at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation and director of the Center for Complex Coronary Interventions at the Minneapolis Heart Institute®. As one of the foremost experts on complex PCI, he has authored or co-authored over 700 manuscripts and written the Manual of Percutaneous Coronary Interventions.

“Ever since the procedure, I’ve been doing great,” said Skip. “Between Dr. Eckman and Dr. Brilakis and the entire staff at the heart institute, I’ve been treated really well. Since I had the stents put in, my shortness of breath has disappeared.”

About six weeks after surgery, Skip was headed to cardiac rehabilitation and hoped to soon be able to go back to the gym, where prior to the COVID pandemic he regularly worked out three times a week for about an hour.

“Everybody at Abbott Northwestern and the heart institute have just been fantastic,” said Skip.

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