Doctors find major blockages near John Turchin's heart

Turchin receives 3 stents

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - "I couldn't walk five, ten feet without this enormous pain in my chest. It was excruciating," said Local 10 Crime Specialist John Turchin.

A few months ago, Turchin had pneumonia. He thought that was why he was tired and out of breath.

An electrocardiogram (EKG) looked fine, but his cardiologist, Dr. Wayne Pollak, wasn't satisfied.

"You don't know until you look or you go that extra mile," said Pollak.

Pollak wanted to look further partly because of Turchin's family history. His father died from a heart attack at age 52.

Turchin, 56, seemed headed in that direction. Dr. Juan Pastor-Cervantes said plaque build-up blocked more than 95 percent of his vessel walls in two arteries.

Stents -- tiny wire scaffolding used to open up the arteries -- were installed in those two places.

"It was like a dental floss. That's all that was left of the vessel," said Pollak.

After the first stent procedure, Turchin felt better, saying he no longer felt short of breath or had chest pain. But doctors had two more areas of concern, including one with 85 percent blockage.

A third stent was implanted. Doctors said those blockages don't always show up in tests, which is why they're often called widow makers.

"It doesn't matter what the tests say. It doesn't matter what you do -- you know your own body and you know if something is right and if something's wrong," said Turchin's wife, Kathy.

"People say, you know, 'you're lucky to be alive,' and you kind of take it for granted. I did before this, and I don't anymore," added Turchin. "I listened to my body and my body said something was wrong, and the doctor listened to me, and thank God for that."

A fourth area was partially blocked, but doctors said it could be controlled and even reversed with blood pressure and cholesterol lowering drugs, a better diet, and a consistent exercise routine.

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