Andrew Cooper

Andrew Cooper

Broward Heart Project Saves Lives

Before his heart scan in October 2023, Andrew Cooper, a 57-year-old Davie resident, didn’t think he had any health concerns. But then a surprise diagnosis changed his life.  

“I felt like I was in pretty good shape,” said Andrew, a former engineering manager, who worked in the medical device industry. “My weight and my recent vitals and cholesterol were all good. I get about six hours of exercise in a typical week, including mountain biking at Markham Park.”

However, his wife, Colette, a nurse at Broward Health Medical Center, urged him to visit a cardiologist due to his family history of heart disease.

So Andrew went to see cardiologist Kenneth H. Zelnick, M.D. While there were no red flags at the appointment, Dr. Zelnick told him about the Broward Heart Project. This Broward County initiative provides free cardiac CT screening tests to qualifying residents, enabling doctors to identify potentially life-threatening conditions that might otherwise go undetected.

After filling out an online form, Andrew soon got an appointment for a scan at the hospital where his wife works.

Andrew says the scan was easy and quick. After the scan, he was curious and asked if he could see the image. The technician explained that he would have to wait about 30 minutes for the radiologist, Pamela Lombardi, M.D., which he was happy to do.

As Dr. Lombardi started reviewing his scan, she identified a critical stenosis, or blockage, in the left main artery. She immediately obtained a phone consultation with a cardiologist and the decision was made to escort Andrew to Broward Health Medical Center’s Emergency Department for further evaluation. Testing confirmed a blockage in the artery that causes widow-maker heart attacks, which have an estimated survival rate of only 12%. It was then that Andrew was told he’d need bypass surgery.

“Everything was happening so fast, but I had great support from my wife and my sister, who is also a nurse and flew down from New York to be here the next morning,” said Andrew.

Just one day after Andrew received his free scan, Kenneth Herskowitz, M.D., medical director of cardiovascular services at Broward Health Medical Center, performed a successful quadruple bypass surgery. 

“Andrew’s blockage had the potential to cause a devastating heart attack,” said Dr. Herskowitz. “It was incredibly fortunate that we found it when we did, thanks to the Broward Heart Project.”

After surgery, Andrew stayed in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for a few days before being transferred to a less intensive unit.  

“Before my scan, I had no idea I had a heart condition,” said Andrew. “Everything happened so quickly, I just didn’t have time to do any research or to prepare for what happens after surgery. Looking back, I really appreciate how good my ICU nurses were to me, especially Veronica, during my first night.”

Andrew was discharged from the hospital eight days after his scan and seven days post-surgery. 

He rested at home for a few weeks before starting cardiac rehab. Eight weeks after surgery, as Andrew finished cardiac rehab, he was feeling really good.

“I highly recommend getting a cardiac CT angiography (CCTA). I got the test more as a matter of interest and did not even consider that I may have a heart problem, as I live a healthy lifestyle,” said Andrew. “This test literally saved my life. Without it I would almost certainly have had a severe heart attack sometime in my future.”