Glenn Riske was told he needed an aortic root aneurysm repair or he would die. It was only a matter of time.
Riske’s ordeal, along with the complex factors involved, are the subject of the latest installment of Northwell Health’s podcast series Health Story.
Actually choosing to act was no easy decision. Mr. Riske, 56, of Patchogue, had to opt to move forward with the elective cardiac surgery – his fourth. Riske and wife, Susan, are nurses. Several factors weighed heavily on him.
“You know what? I’ve been through enough,” said Riske. “I’ve worked 30-something years in nursing, in critical care. Now they’re telling me I need this major heart surgery. I’m done. I’m not having anything.”
Ultimately, Riske elected to have the procedure.
How close he came to a potentially fatal event was only revealed during surgery at the Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital at North Shore University Hospital.
“This aneurysm was enlarging and once aneurysms begin to enlarge, they don’t stop,” said Dr. Alan Hartman, senior vice president and executive director of cardiothoracic services at Northwell Health. “Ultimately, they’ll rupture. So while it wasn’t a surgical emergency, it certainly would become one at one point if one were to ignore it. When we were doing his surgery and looking on the inside of an aneurysm, that’s when you understood how important it was to have addressed this.”
Riske is on the mend and the twice-married couple grew closer as a result.
Turns out, two hearts were repaired during one eight-hour surgery. Listen to the podcast: To hear the episode, click here.