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A second chance at a heart-healthy life

After triple bypass surgery, Katina Lotakis-Manne is determined to make every moment count.

Woman in her 70s in kitchen with cookbook preparing a meal.
From eating to exercise, heart health is Katina’s passion.

Fifteen years ago, after she recovered from a heart attack, Katina Lotakis-Manne, now 72, pledged to be the perfect cardiac patient. The New City, NY, resident took a closer look at her diet, started going to the gym regularly and made sure to show up for every routine cardiologist appointment.

“I wanted to do everything right,” she said. “I had perfect numbers—low cholesterol and low blood pressure. I wanted to make sure that I would stay healthy.”

But, about two years ago, when Katina was at the gym, she felt out of breath and something didn’t feel quite right. Katina was often tired and felt like she was lacking energy. When she mentioned her symptoms to her cardiologist, James Walter Catanese, MD, he checked the numbers and told her everything seemed OK, but perhaps she should have an angiogram and stress test to double-check.

“Those tests showed something was going on, although they weren’t sure what at first,” Katina said. “Dr. Catanese referred me to an interventional cardiologist, who placed two stents and we thought that was that.”

Two years later, Katina was scheduled to get a dental implant, a routine procedure that meant she’d have to stop taking her blood thinning medication for a week. She decided to check back in with Dr. Catanese before stopping the medication. Dr. Catanese listened carefully to her concerns, and thought it would be best to proceed with caution—he scheduled her for another stress test.

“He called me back at the end of the day to tell me that they found something,” she said. “I needed to have coronary artery bypass surgery. Apparently, I have the heart of a 25-year-old, but my artery had narrowed and needed to be bypassed.”

Her doctor recommended that she see S. Jacob Scheinerman, MD, chair of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at Lenox Hill Heart & Lung. As a renowned leader in his field, Dr. Scheinerman takes pride in the amount of collective clinical expertise and experience that patients can find across the department. He and his team make sure to always put the patient first.

Woman in her 70s sitting at a table holding a red coffee mug.
Katina is looking forward to sampling heart-healthy fare on a trip to Italy.

“What really sets us apart is the attention and service we pay to our patients and their families—as well as our ability to deliver comprehensive, compassionate and quality care,” Dr. Scheinerman said. "This dedication is why our cardiac programs are consistently recognized nationally for excellence in quality and outcomes."

Katina couldn’t agree more. She was most impressed with the time he took to explain the procedure before she underwent surgery.

He didn’t just talk her through the procedure, he walked her through it: “Dr. Scheinerman carefully explained what would be happening during my surgery,” she said. “He even took a conference call from my son who lives in North Carolina so he could be in on the whole thing, too.” Those two above-and-beyond steps stood out to Katina and put her mind at ease before her bypass surgery.

After her procedure, that high quality of care continued. Katina said that Dr. Scheinerman came to check on her twice a day, every day.

“He was really on the case,” she said. “He and his team were always coming in, asking how I was and checking on me. And they didn’t just focus on the physical. They also made sure I was OK psychologically, too. The entire care team was just wonderful. I can’t say enough good things.”

Today, after finishing cardiac rehab, Katina is feeling like herself again. She is back to work and working out regularly at the gym—even back to her normal speed and elevation on the treadmill. But, most importantly, she is looking forward to enjoying life with her family. She and her husband are about to embark on an anniversary trip to Italy, including a much-anticipated visit to Sicily.

“We’re flying into Venice and then into Palermo,” she said. “Italy is such a beautiful place. I’m really looking forward to all the sites. And I’m also looking forward to the food. I hear it is fabulous—and heart-healthy, too.”

But Katina said she is most grateful that Dr. Scheinerman and the team at Lenox Hill Heart & Lung have spared her from worry about her health. She said, by taking the time to explain every aspect of her surgery and recovery, they lifted a burden from her shoulders.

“He’s just aces in my book,” she said. “It’s so nice to be able to just enjoy life with my husband and family, and not have to worry. That’s the best gift you can give someone.”

Woman in her 70s sitting at a brown piano.
Katina is happy to be back enjoying life, music and family.