Mer235_First_SPR12_LrgWEB_002A Chance Encounter

A few years ago, after losing a close friend to cancer, Leslie Onesto and her husband, Anthony, made a deal. If either ever voiced a concern about the other’s health, they had to listen and they had to take it seriously. So when Anthony suggested Leslie attend a heart screening health fair hosted by Mercy at the Old Neighborhood Italian American Club, she knew she had to go.

As it turns out, it’s a good thing she did. The screen revealed that she had blockage in her carotid artery. The carotid arteries are located on each side of the neck and are the main source of blood to the brain. Often, there are no symptoms of a blocked carotid artery. However, a blockage can interrupt blood flow to the brain and lead to stroke. Also, the blockage can result in a clot forming. If the blood clot breaks off and travels to the brain, the person can suffer a stroke.

"I was completely surprised," says the 59-year-old Westchester resident. "I thought they might find a clog in my arteries, but I wasn’t thinking about the carotid artery at all. I absolutely feel like this saved my life."

At the time, Leslie was seeing providers at another health system. After the screening, she switched all her health care to Mercy. Paul A. Jones, M.D., Mercy’s chief of Cardiovascular Services, became her new cardiologist. Dr. Jones recommended a carotid stenting procedure, a non-surgical procedure similar to coronary artery stenting. Dr. Jones was the first physician in Chicago to perform a carotid stenting procedure using stents approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is a pioneer in the field.

Leslie underwent the procedure in April 2010. She had just an overnight hospital stay and a seamless recovery. Today, she feels great and recommends Mercy to all her friends and family. "I'm a convert," she says.

"Everyone at Mercy is so gracious and nice. They look you in the eye and they answer your questions and concerns. That's all anybody wants, isn’t it?" she asks.



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