One of MY TOUGHEST Cases: A Patient He Had Never MetEast Jefferson Cardiovascular Specialists | 4224 Houma Blvd., Suite 500 | Metairie | 455-0842
33 years in practice
Bachelor of Science in Chemistry – Georgetown University,
M.D. – Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington D.C.
Native of Knoxville, Tennessee
Nicholas Pappas Jr. says it was his father, a first generation Greek immigrant and general practitioner in Knoxville, Tenn., that inspired him to become a doctor.
“He had a genuine love for his patients,” he says. “That captured my attention.”
Pappas was only 15 years old when his father died suddenly of a heart attack.
“I think that probably played a part in my decision to become an interventional cardiologist,” he says.
Pappas adds that it’s also the organization inherent in the field that drew him.
“There’s a wide battery of tests that we can use to get to the root of the problem,” he says. “I like that organized aspect I guess, along with the ability to really do good for a patient during an intense crisis, like a heart attack.”
After completing residencies in internal medicine and cardiology at the Ochsner Clinic in the 1970s, Pappas worked in the LSU Cardiology Department for several years before joining the six-person team that currently comprises the East Jefferson Cardiovascular Specialists in 2006.
“At that time I had well over 1,000 patients waiting to see where I would establish a practice,” he says.
Challenged to come up with his toughest case, Pappas noted one of his more interesting cases – a man he didn’t meet until days after he had operated on him.
“One of my patients was a middle age man who had a long history of coronary artery disease,” he says. “He had multiple stints, and following his most recent stint he had stopped taking his Plavix because he couldn’t afford it.”
The drug is necessary to keep stints from clotting.
“When he started having severe chest pain he actually drove himself to the emergency room,” Pappas says. “When he showed up, he had one hand on his chest and the other was clutching an empty bottle of Plavix.”
“I opened up the clotted artery and stint,” he says. “He was in a coma for 48 hours before I met him for the first time, which is very unusual for me.”
Pappas says the man is now part of an ever-growing group that he likes to refer to as, “as much my friends as my patients.”
He notes that Plavix has since become available in a generic version, making it affordable for people, including this patient, that depend on it.
“He is definitely back to taking his medication,” he says.