Local cardiologist awarded for reshaping stigma on heart health

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Being a cardiac patient doesn’t mean living an active lifestyle has to end. One heart patient ran in the recent 2019 Boston Marathon with the help of a Wilmington cardiologist and that’s why that doctor received an award Friday that will grant him recognition nationwide.

“This certificate frame will be cherished more than my medical school diplomas,” Dr. Henry Patel of New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Cardiac Heart Associates said.

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Patel says recent technology advancements have aided in his practice.

“Through a lot of engineering and a lot of research by individual companies, they’ve been able to mimic algorithms that carry out the normal functions of the human body that you and I take for granted,” Patel said.

This medical technology was a dream come true for Peyton Chitty in his search for a medical solution for a congenital heart defect that didn’t keep him away from the surf board or the track.

“When I first heard pacemaker, I said ‘Oh no! That’s for people that are dying I didn’t know,'” said Chitty.

Months after getting a pacemaker, Chitty accomplished a major goal. He crossed the finish line at the 2019 Boston Marathon. He says Patels’ individual care was the key.

“I often times speak to patients in regular English,” Patel said. “I tell them not that you have Bradycardia, but that you have a slow heart rate and then I explain why slow heart rates are not good for you.”

Chitty says doctors like Patel are hard to find and that’s why he added Patel to the national database for cardiac athletes to make the search easier.

“I want others to know that there are doctors out their that will work with them and you can continue a quality of life and not be defined by a circumstance or diagnosis,” Chitty said.

Chitty tells the full story of how Dr.Patel transformed his life in a chapter of ‘Cardiac Athletes: Real Superheroes Beating Heart Disease’ to be released this year.