Lake County Woman Making Strides Towards Fitness Following Open Heart Surgery

Northwestern Medicine
Cardiology February 19, 2015
As an active 53-year-old research scientist and mother of three, Sherry Kim figured she was experiencing the early signs of menopause while shopping on Black Friday over Thanksgiving weekend. 

“I thought I slept wrong because I had this nagging pain in my shoulder,” she said. “I had this sudden hot flash and felt kind of strange on the left side of my face. I thought ‘Am I having a heart attack or am I having a panic attack? Should I call my husband or 911?’”

Sherry Kim on fitness machine being monitored by medical professionalSherry wasn’t in menopause, or having a heart attack. But the nagging chest pain and pressure she had experienced intermittently since the summer of 2014 didn’t go away. By the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, she was at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital where she learned she had a blockage in her left main coronary artery that couldn’t be treated with a less invasive stenting procedure.

She was taken by ambulance to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago for open heart surgery, then within the week was back in her Lake County home. 

Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary in February 2015, offers patients a seamless experience with the same physicians practicing in Lake Forest, Chicago and several suburban outpatient centers including Glenview and Grayslake.

Sherry Kim on fitness machine“We’re a full service cardiac facility save for open heart surgery,” said Ian Cohen, MD, medical director of cardiology for Lake Forest Hospital. “Virtually everything we can take care of at Lake Forest Hospital. The benefit of being a part of Northwestern is that it creates a seamless patient bridge from where we are at Lake Forest to downtown. Patients can get all their testing locally and if there is a specific condition that needs to be treated at Northwestern Memorial, we can get our patients down there as a priority.”

For Sherry, who spent free time golfing, bike riding and playing tennis before her surgery, recovery from open heart surgery has been long. She is back at work and currently in cardiac rehabilitation at Lake Forest Hospital, where she participates in a monitored series of exercises aimed at safely restoring her physical fitness.

“I’m not overweight, I always thought I was in pretty good physical condition,” Sherry said. “I’m hoping to be back to golfing at the end of March because we’re going to Florida.”

Dr. Cohen said that Sherry’s prognosis is excellent, and credited her with listening to unusual symptoms in her body and going to see a physician right away when something seemed off.

“In the last few weeks I can give you four or five patents in their ‘40 s or ‘50s who are healthy people,  who do not fit the poster child of heart disease,  and all had angioplasties or bypass surgeries,” Cohen said. “I think Sherry is just one of those kind of examples. She was a healthy women with vague symptoms and it’s a good lesson for a lot of women that vague symptoms shouldn’t be ignored.”

Learn more about the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, or to make an appointment, or call (312) NM-HEART. 
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