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Healthwatch 16: Feeling lucky after test reveals aortic aneurysm

In this week's Healthwatch 16, a Scranton restaurant owner says he's feeling lucky one year after surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm.

SCRANTON, Pa. — Cosmo Salerno is used to a busy pace. He's run Cosmo's Cheesesteaks along Moosic Street in Scranton for nearly 15 years. But a little more than a year ago, Salerno said, during a trip to Las Vegas, he became worried about his health.

"I walked to the bathroom, from the bed to the bathroom. I was breathing heavy. I'm like, 'What's going on?' I got home from Vegas and called up the doctor."

Salerno's doctor thought he might have a heart murmur and scheduled an echocardiogram. The test revealed Salerno had an aortic aneurysm. He was sent to see Dr. Joseph Stella, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton, about his condition and what would happen next.

"His aneurysm was a big aneurysm right down here affecting the valve, and as the blood pumped out, that's what causes the valves leaking back because the aneurysm had kind of pulled the valve away," Dr. Stella explained.

Dr. Stella says Salerno's aortic aneurysm was more than three inches in size and needed surgery immediately.

"We replaced the valve and the aorta all at the same time, and it requires us to reimplant his own coronaries back into the graft," said Dr. Stella.

Salerno says he's taking better care of himself now but admits he saw his doctor three years prior to the diagnosis with similar symptoms and never followed up after.

"I wish I got it checked three years ago because it was still there and would have been there but wouldn't have been as big as this. It would have been taken care of three years ago."

Salerno says he's lucky to be alive. He and Dr. Stella say the echocardiogram technician's good eye was the key to a proper diagnosis.

"I would like to say thank you to him in person because I would have left there, and just you know, they will want to wait. It might have got on that plane. Who knows what would have happened again?"

See more Healthwatch 16 stories on YouTube.  

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