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Patient Stories

Mark Williams: Quick Action, Correct Diagnosis

An ongoing bout with painful indigestion turned out to be much more serious for Mark Williams.

Williams, an accomplished realtor with Century 21 Legacy in Greeneville, went to see Dr. Joseph Kretschmar, a gastroenterologist with Takoma Medical Associates, after he noticed increased chest discomfort when he exercised.

“I thought it was probably related to acid reflux, but I wanted to have it checked out,” Williams recalled. “Dr. Kretschmar sent me across the hall to Dr. Gregory Uhl, a cardiologist.”

Dr. Uhl pulled up Williams’ electronic medical record on the computer and was able to look at his calcium scoring and blood tests from the previous year. He was concerned, so he ordered a nuclear stress test right away.

“I had chest pain while on the treadmill, so we had to stop,” he recalled. “My EKG results were awful. The images of my heart taken before and after the treadmill weren’t good. It appeared that I had significant blockage, so Dr. Uhl had me go to Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport that very day. In fact, I had a heart catherization within just a few hours.”

Williams had 95 percent blockage in his left main coronary artery, ominously nicknamed the “widow maker” because heart attack sufferers with blockage in that particular location usually don’t survive. He also had 75 percent blockage in a minor artery.

“They put in a stent in the main artery and used balloon angioplasty to open the minor artery,” Williams said of the May 3 procedure. “They told me I was very lucky, that I likely would have had a significant cardiac event within months and it would probably have been fatal.”

Williams thanks Dr. Kretschmar and Dr. Uhl for their quick response and good judgment. “They took control, scheduled the correct tests and diagnosed me properly,” he said. “I don’t doubt that they saved my life. I was very, very fortunate.”

Williams said he believes God spared his life for a reason, which he is determined to discover. “I believe He kept me here for a purpose…maybe it’s to tell others to take care of themselves through preventative health – to eat right, exercise and have diagnostic tests, especially as they age.”

Williams said he was already pretty active, but has made significant changes to improve his diet. “The Bible is clear on how we’re supposed to take care of our bodies and live a healthy life,” he said. “It’s up to us to do it.”