Meet Angelo Innocente, Local Resident

It Pays to Listen to Your Heart

photo of Angelo InnocenteWhile on vacation in Florida, Angelo Innocente experienced shortness of breath. His wife recommended a check-up. At age 65, Angelo considers himself active, walking four to five kilometers a day regularly. 

“I didn’t think there was anything wrong, as every year I get an electrocardiogram test and everything seemed fine,” says Angelo. 

A stress test was scheduled at the Regional Cardiac Care Centre at St. Mary’s General Hospital. “About 20 seconds into the exercises my heart was racing and we had to stop,” he recalls. 

A subsequent CT scan showed blockages to Angelo’s heart. His mother died of a similar condition when he was 11 years old. 

In February 2014, Angelo had a successful bypass surgery for six blockages and was discharged from hospital after five days. He has praise for St. Mary’s staff, from the surgeons to pre- and post-care teams. “I had never been in such a situation before, and the quality of care I experienced was the most amazing thing that ever happened to me. My gratitude goes to all those who helped to save me.” He also thanked staff at the Health in Motion Cardiac Rehabilitation Centre where Angelo and his wife took a number of classes on nutrition and participated in a four months supervised exercise program: “I found the program very helpful.  We had constant monitoring and we were encouraged to know our body and do self- assessments for continuing an active lifestyle away from the clinic.”  

Angelo says he also had three weeks of excellent home care support with regional home care providers.

Angelo is one of the many cardiac patients in the community to have received high quality care from St. Mary’s Regional Cardiac Care Centre, which is supported by the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network.  

“St. Mary’s consistently has among the shortest wait times for cardiac procedures in Ontario and currently leads the province for meeting or exceeding the provincial benchmark for emergency treatment of STEMI heart attacks in patients from the Waterloo Wellington Region brought directly to St. Mary’s by regional paramedics, ” says  Kim Siegel,  Director of the Cardiac Program at St Mary’s.  ”Readmission rates following an acute heart attack are approximately half the national rate.” 

The Centre serves a population base exceeding 800,400 people, with a referral area that extends from Simcoe to Goderich to Owen Sound. 

Asked what message he would like to share with others who may one day experience the symptoms of heart disease Angelo says, “Listen to your heart and go for regular assessments. Fortunately for me, I followed my wife’s advice and it paid off.”

Since undergoing surgery, he’s made lifestyle changes to keep his heart healthy.  This year Angelo has three great reasons to celebrate -- good health, an upcoming 45th wedding anniversary, and the opening of a family brewery business. 

For more information on St. Mary’s cardiac programs, visit www.smgh.ca.

UPDATE: Where is Angelo Now?

One year after his successful bypass surgery, Angelo is doing well. He credits his recovery to the staff and support programs provided by St. Mary’s Cardiac Care Centre.

The four month exercise and nutrition program provided by the hospital was a great help to Angelo and his family in learning to maintain his cardiac health and he has been able to successfully carry on those important lifestyle changes. “My wife and I walk together 6-7 days a week and do our best to eat the right way. It’s not always easy, but I realized it was me who needed to make the changes to my lifestyle not anyone else.”

Since leaving hospital, Angelo has worked with his family doctor to monitor his health and has not needed to return to hospital or receive additional specialist care.

Stories like Angelo’s illustrate how high-quality, integrated programs like St. Mary’s Cardiac Care Centre make it easier for patients to get the right care and supports they need and can make a real difference in positive health outcomes.