Albert and Randy Bilyeu
Brothers Albert Bilyeu, 63, and Randy Bilyeu, 57, understand the importance of seeking medical care quickly at the first signs of chest pain and other heart attack symptoms.
Within a nine-day period, both Robertson County brothers underwent life-saving heart surgery to treat coronary artery disease with Seenu Reddy, M.D., cardiovascular surgeon at TriStar Centennial Heart & Vascular Center in Nashville, Tenn. Neither brother had prior indication they had heart disease.
“It was hard for us to believe,” said Randy. “We’re years apart but within two weeks we both had the surgery.”
Albert’s surgery was after an emergency room visit to a community hospital when he was experiencing severe chest pain and tingling in his arms. A catheter-based diagnostic procedure by cardiologist L. Kendrick Mills, M.D., of Tennessee Heart & Vascular Institute identified that he had severe coronary artery disease with multiple blockages. The ER physician coordinated his transport by ambulance to Nashville where Reddy provided further specialized care, including triple coronary artery bypass surgery.
Randy had been experiencing chest pain and heaviness in his arms. With his wife’s encouragement, he scheduled an appointment with the family physician. Following a stress test and heart angiogram by Tennessee Heart & Vascular Institute, his cardiologist, Nicholas Lippolis, M.D., identified severe blockages that needed quick attention. Randy and his wife, Dee, knew they would only trust Reddy to perform the surgery.
“When I found out I needed heart surgery, I knew I was going directly to Dr. Reddy,” Randy said. “He did such a great job with my brother and with our family during Albert’s surgery.”
“We had the opportunity to get to know several members of the Bilyeu family very well during Albert’s stay at TriStar Centennial in February,” Reddy said. “It was quite a surprise to receive a call about his younger brother Randy just two days after Albert went home from the hospital.”
Randy’s cardiologist, Lippolis, referred him to Reddy in Nashville where he underwent a two vessel beating heart coronary artery bypass surgery.
“It was a shock to me for my brother to be going through the same thing I just had,” reflected Albert. “We even had the same doctor at the same hospital.”
Reddy said it’s not uncommon for patients to be unaware they have heart disease and have to undergo surgery quickly, but it is the first time he’s operated on two family members within this short period of time.
The Bilyeu family is thankful for a skilled and compassionate surgeon that provided great care, took time to explain the surgeries and kept in touch with family members throughout the process.
Reddy and his team believe in keeping patients and family members informed during every step of their heart care, from diagnosis and treatment to recovery and coordinating follow-up care, particularly with their local family physician and cardiologist.
“Learning you have coronary artery disease and that you will need to have open heart surgery is a very scary and often overwhelming experience for patient and family members alike,” he said.
Patients with coronary artery disease have blood vessels that are blocked and preventing blood flow that feeds and sustains the heart muscle. When blockages are severe, coronary artery bypass surgery is needed to re-establish healthy blood flow to the heart to prevent a disabling or fatal heart event.
“Albert and Randy’s knowledge of heart attack symptoms and their decision to seek medical attention quickly after experiencing heart attack symptoms was very likely a life-saving decision for them both,” said Reddy. “That’s a lot of information for people to process all at once. We make it a priority to keep patients and their family informed as they navigate through this challenging time under our care.”
Both surgeries were successful and Albert and Randy are returning to their normal activities, just two months after their heart surgery. Randy and Dee were even able to go on a recent cruise to Cozumel, Mexico, and are walking two to three miles a day together.
Albert and Randy both offer the same piece of advice to anyone who thinks they may be experiencing symptoms of a heart attack.
“If you have any kind of pain at all in your chest, go get it checked out right way,” Randy said.
“Be serious about any of the signs of a heart attack,” he said. “I knew something was wrong. That’s why you don’t delay getting help.”