Heart Surgery Gets Power Lifter Back on the Bench


A champion powerlifter is able to get back to doing what he loves after having his heart repaired at Southside Hospital.
A champion powerlifter is able to get back to doing what he loves after having his heart repaired at Southside Hospital.

BAY SHORE, NY – Ernie Pauciullo, 66, noticed about two years ago that his typical morning run of three miles was getting slower, from a time of 21 minutes down to 30.  He also noticed that he was unusually out of breath.  Concerned, because in addition to being a runner Ernie was also a power lifter, he went to Southside Hospital cardiologist David Sedaghat, MD.

It was a smart move.  Ernie needed a quadruple bypass and his aortic and mitral valves were replaced by Robert Kalimi, MD, vice chairman of cardiovascular surgery at Southside Hospital.

The surgery was a success but that was not the only thing on Ernie’s mind.  He wanted to know if he would be able to return to the powerlifting he loved.   “That was something that was very dear to him and he wanted to make sure that he could go back to his norm of going to the gym and lifting weight and working out,” Dr. Kalimi said. “I told him not initially post-operatively but eventually, after several weeks, he could resume normal activities and after a few months of building up his strength he’d be able to lift weights.”   

Dr. Sedaghat said Ernie is regularly checked to make sure his heart is working well and he is back to 90 percent of where he used to be.

“This story is a reminder to everyone to pay attention to symptoms,” Dr. Sedaghat said.  “When a person slows down or finds they are able to do less than they previously could, it is not necessarily about getting older. Especially in seniors, a lot of symptoms are pushed under the rug as ‘a sign of aging’, That may not be the case.  Any change in symptoms should be told to a physician even if the change is gradual.”

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