Clark Brookstone is an enthusiastic team leader of the Heart Strong Vets for the community's annual American Heart Association (AHA) Heart Walk. Throughout the year, he welcomes opportunities to speak to groups and individuals about the importance the AHA plays in the fight against heart disease. He does it to pay forward what he believes was life-saving measures by the professionals at Capital Regional Medical Center.
“I didn't really have a family history or pre-existing conditions that caused me to develop heart disease,” he said. “I had always been fairly active, was a little overweight but had never smoked. I blame it on too much fried chicken and BBQ ribs.” The former Army Photojournalist, retired teacher and investigator for the Florida Department of Highway Safety had quadruple bypass surgery in 2005.
As a veteran he typically utilized services at the VA facility in Tallahassee. “In 2012 I was feeling pretty sick. I hadn't been well for about eight months and had lost about 85 pounds,” he said. “I went to my primary care doctor at the VA who ran a variety of blood tests which showed that my hemoglobin level was extremely low. He sent me to Capital Regional for follow up. I thought when I arrived that I would be getting a blood transfusion, but it turned out to be something much more complicated.”
Niraj Pandit, MD, interventional cardiologist with Capital Regional Cardiology Associates determined he needed a cardiac catheterization. “He discovered that I had two very diseased heart valves,” he said.
Since his initial valve diagnosis in 2012, Clark has been seeing Dr. Pandit for cardiac care. “He has performed catheterizations and twice has placed stents in my heart,” he said. “I have the utmost faith and trust in Dr. Pandit. I honestly believe he saved my life. I couldn't be more grateful to him and to his team.”
In addition to receiving heart care at Capital Regional, Clark has benefited from other services including hernia surgery and stitches for a bad cut. “Each time I've gone into the Emergency Department, the people there provide immediate attention. They treat you with the utmost respect. They listen to you and provide prompt, efficient care. I highly recommend Dr. Pandit and Capital Regional to anyone needing great healthcare.”