Robert Winchester’s carotid endarterectomies lower risk for potential stroke

“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Dr. Haqqani,” said Midland resident Robert Winchester.

Two years ago, Robert became acquainted with Dr. Omar P. Haqqani, Chief of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at Vascular Health Clinics in Midland, Michigan, after being referred by his physician.

Back in 2015, Robert experienced the first of two blocked carotid arteries – the second would come later the following year. Robert said that his symptoms began out of nowhere, experiencing severe pain from the blockage.

“I started to have ice cream headaches without having any ice cream,” Robert said. “They were very painful, and were the result of the artery being narrowed.”

Much of what Robert believed to have caused his carotid arteries to become blocked with plaque was due to his coronary artery disease, as well as a history of atherosclerosis.

After coming to Vascular Health Clinics on the first occasion, Dr. Haqqani pinpointed the stenosis through an ultrasound, revealing that Robert’s carotid artery was almost entirely blocked with plaque.

Due to the severe risk of stroke that the blockage imposed, Robert would have to undergo a carotid endarterectomy.

During a carotid endarterectomy, an incision is made on either one or both sides of the affected artery, and the plaque is removed from the inner lining of the carotid.

Much of the procedure depends on the individual, as well as the extent of the disease, but the purpose of most procedures is to remove the plaque to decrease the risk of stroke and restore blood flow to the brain. Ordinarily, a carotid endarterectomy requires a hospital stay of about one-two days.

“The way that the procedure worked is that they made an incision in my neck, opened up the artery, and picked out the pieces of plaque individually,” Robert said. “I was out cold for the entire procedure, and after it was all done, they sewed me back up.”

Robert underwent a separate procedure for each of his carotid arteries – both of which he received a full recovery from, citing that he no longer has any headaches as a result of his condition.

“Everything’s working fine again,” Robert said. “I couldn’t be happier.”

For many years, Robert worked as a computer engineer at Dow Chemical. He loved the work, citing that it matched up perfectly with his many tech-based hobbies.

“Amateur radio has been a lifelong hobby of mine,” Robert said. “We have radio antennas all over the house! I also love cutting wood to heat our home, making maple syrup from the trees in our woods, and going camping.”

Since retiring from Dow in 1997, Robert has many activities that keep him busy – all with the love and support of his wife by his side, who he’ll be celebrating 52 years of marriage with this year. Together, they had three children.

Thanks to the quick action of Dr. Haqqani and the team at Vascular Health Clinics on both occasions, Robert will be able to continue exploring all of the hobbies he loves so dearly, with his family by his side.

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