We continue to monitor COVID-19, flu and other respiratory viruses in our communities. Read the most current information about prevention, testing and where to go if you're sick.

COVID-19 Information

Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery Helps Tom Return to the Basketball Court


Tom Caspari thought he was too healthy to have a heart attack.

At age 79, Caspari, a business owner and retired banker, still played weekly in a competitive over-40 basketball league, worked out regularly with a trainer and enjoyed an active lifestyle with his wife, Dede, their children and grandchildren. His cholesterol levels were a little high, but otherwise, he was fine.

Or so he thought.

High Blood Pressure Diagnosis

In mid-November, Tom went to Missouri Baptist Medical Center’s emergency department for a nosebleed that wouldn’t stop and learned that his blood pressure was much higher than normal. After treating his nosebleed, doctors sent him home with a prescription for medicine to help lower his blood pressure to a healthy range.

Over the next week, Tom noticed he felt tired, with intermittent pain in his left arm that only went away with rest. He also couldn’t complete his workouts with his trainer and saw that his blood pressure remained high. “I took it easy, thinking that my body was adjusting to my new blood pressure medication.”

Then, one Sunday morning in mid-December, Tom woke up feeling something was wrong. “I felt a heaviness in my chest that worried me,” he says.

After he and Dede arrived at MoBap, the emergency department team monitored Tom’s vital signs and performed an electrocardiogram (EKG) to check his heart’s electrical activity and rhythm. While his blood pressure was high, the EKG results showed his heart muscle was performing at normal levels. Tom also had blood drawn for a test to measure for the cardiac protein troponin. Troponin is sent into the bloodstream when the heart muscle has been damaged, as in a heart attack. 

“As someone who is used to being active and not sitting around, I was ready to leave the emergency room before the test results were back. Thankfully, my daughter, Susan, and the doctors convinced me to stay,” Tom says. “When the bloodwork results came back, it showed the presence of troponin, which indicated heart damage.”

Tom was admitted to MoBap’s advanced cardiac care unit for more testing. As a heart patient, he was assigned a team of physicians and nurses who provide specialized care for patients with heart and chest problems.

Diagnostic Procedure Shows Blockages

The next morning, Tom met with Stuart Higano, MD, BJC Medical Group interventional cardiologist on staff at MoBap. He is also a part of MoBap’s heart team. Dr. Higano talked to Tom about diagnostic cardiac catheterization (cardiac cath). This non-surgical procedure gives doctors more information about the heart and blood vessels.

“I wanted to have the procedure to find out what was happening to my heart so we could fix it,” Tom says.

Before the procedure in the cardiac cath lab, Tom was given medicine to relax. Then, Dr. Higano passed a thin, flexible tube (catheter) through a blood vessel in Tom’s groin up into his heart. Next, a dye was injected through the catheter to provide a clear view of blood vessels.

After the procedure, Dr. Higano told Tom, Dede and Susan that Tom’s blood test confirmed he had suffered a heart attack. The cardiac cath showed that the vessels at the front of Tom’s heart were 90 percent blocked and the vessels at the back of the heart were 70 percent blocked.

“Both my mom and I were surprised when we heard the news. This was a curveball we didn’t see coming,” Susan says.

“Although I knew my overall cholesterol had been elevated for the past year, I didn’t realize it had risen well above 200,” Tom adds. “And I never imagined it would lead to a heart attack.”

Choosing the Best Procedure

Dr. Higano consulted with other members of MoBap’s heart team about Tom’s cardiac cath results and treatment options. This multi-disciplinary approach allows patients to receive care from a specialized team of cardiologists, cardiac and cardiothoracic surgeons along with cardiac nurses with in-depth knowledge of heart diseases and treatments. They meet weekly to discuss patient cases and treatment options and review results.

“To improve blood flow to my heart, they recommended placing stents or performing a bypass procedure,” Tom recalls. “I appreciated that Dr. Higano talked to me about the different treatment options and took the time to answer questions. I felt a part of the decision-making process, which was important to me.”

Because of his age and health history, Tom decided on stent placement. “I liked that the procedure was minimally invasive with lower risk and quicker recovery time. I also felt I was in good hands with Dr. Higano and the heart team,” he says.

To place the stents — small mesh tubes that prop blood vessels open — Dr. Higano performed a balloon angioplasty, a minimally invasive cardiac cath procedure for opening narrowed and blocked arteries.

During the procedure, a catheter with a small balloon is used to insert the stent near the blocked area of the artery. When the balloon is inflated, the stent, which is mounted on the balloon, is pushed against the plaque in the artery wall, opening up the artery for blood flow.

As with the diagnostic cardiac cath, Dr. Higano passed a small catheter, or flexible tube, through a blood vessel in Tom’s leg up into his heart and placed five stents to open the blocked arteries.

After a short stay in the recovery room, Tom returned to the advanced cardiac care unit. “I felt some soreness where they accessed the vessels in my leg and overwhelming relief that my heart issues had been addressed and fixed,” he says.

The following afternoon, Tom was discharged to home with instructions to limit strenuous activity, watch for bruising or bleeding and take the medications he had been prescribed.

On the Road to Recovery

Since returning home, Tom hasn’t had any further chest discomfort, he’s not as tired and every day he feels better.

Tom had his first follow-up visit with Dr. Higano Jan. 4. “My heart is continuing to recover, and I’m looking forward to starting cardiac rehabilitation later this month to further strengthen my heart muscle,” he says. “I’m finding that the hardest part of this journey is slowing down to give my body time to heal.”

He says this experience has taught him not to ignore warning signs, no matter how small. He also stressed the importance of getting to know your doctors and asking questions.

He adds that he is thankful for Dr. Higano and the entire team at MoBap. “The phenomenal care I received has put me on the road to recovery and back on the basketball court.”

Common Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

Some heart attacks can start slowly with mild discomfort or pain, while others may be sudden and intense. With a heart attack, minutes matter to help prevent heart muscle damage. If you notice the following symptoms of a heart attack in yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 rather than drive to the emergency department, which can cause delays and increase risk during the pre-hospital time.

  1. Chest pain or discomfort
  2. Lightheadedness, nausea or vomiting
  3. Jaw, neck or back pain
  4. Discomfort or pain in arm or shoulder
  5. Shortness of breath

Heart attack symptoms can vary between men and women. Visit missouribaptist.org/womenshearthealth to learn more about heart attack warning signs for women.

Related Heart Content

Find a Doctor or Make an Appointment

Our new search tool will help you choose a doctor or health care provider that is best for you or your family.

Search Now

Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery Helps Tom Return to the Basketball Court

Tom Caspari thought he was too healthy to have a heart attack.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Mitral Valve Replacement

When Tina needed a new mitral valve, she benefited from BJC HealthCare’s collaborative approach to care that connected her with a multidisciplinary team of heart specialists. Her journey included seamless coordination between medical teams at two BJC HealthCare facilities: Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital and Missouri Baptist Medical Center (MoBap).

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Dr. Stewart Gets a “Second Chance at Life” After Heart Attack

Todd Stewart, MD, is no stranger to critically ill patients and life-saving procedures. As a spinal neurosurgeon and chief of neurosurgery at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, it’s all in a day’s work. But it came as a shock when he suffered a life-threatening heart attack last year.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Washington University Heart Failure Center at Missouri Baptist

At the Washington University Heart Failure Center at Missouri Baptist, we use a team approach to develop an individualized plan of care for you to manage your disease.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

MoBap Celebrates 1,000 TAVR Case Milestone

On December 6, 2022, Missouri Baptist Medical Center performed its 1,000th transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).

“We are proud to reach this milestone,” says Michael Mauney, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon on staff at Missouri Baptist. “MoBap was among the first medical centers in the nation to adopt this procedure following FDA approval in Fall 2011.”

TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure for replacing a stenotic (tight) aortic valve in which the aortic valve narrows, reducing blood flow from the heart to the aorta. This procedure can also replace failed artificial aortic and mitral valves. TAVR is a treatment option to be considered for those with severe aortic stenosis, including many with worn-out surgical valves.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Cardiac Testing at Missouri Baptist Medical Center

Diagnosing a heart condition often requires a combination of cardiovascular diagnostic and screening tests. These advanced tests can often determine the existence, type and severity of heart disease.

At Missouri Baptist Medical Center, our Cardiac Diagnostics Center is equipped with advanced technology and expertly trained staff to conducts these tests. Your test results will be evaluated by a board-certified cardiologist on staff at MoBap and discussed with your physician to tailor a treatment plan for your specific condition.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right
Stock photo of young family in kitchen preparing healthy meal

Online Heart Health Assessment

Are you at risk for a heart attack? Learn about your risk factors with our online heart health assessment tool and find help for improving your results.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Mending Hearts

Tracy Pick and her mom, Betty Mesplay, are no strangers to heart procedures. But this time the mother-daughter duo would be going through recovery together.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Recipes for Your Health

Tasted, tested and analyzed by dietitians at Missouri Baptist Medical Center

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Heart LifeLine Alliance

As a leader in heart care, Missouri Baptist Medical Center’s cardiac specialists partner with rural hospitals and medical helicopter and ambulance services to offer the region’s leading heart attack network, saving heart muscle and lives.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Heart Valve Surgery Gives New Lease on Life

Looking forward to resuming their active lifestyle in 2022, Connie and Arlin have two trips planned early in the year. Connie said that her heart surgery has given her a new lease on life. "Every time I'm at Missouri Baptist, I feel cared for, listened to and taken seriously. I always tell people that if you have heart problems, go to MoBap."

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Cardiac Surgery Center: World Class Care, Close to Home.

Missouri Baptist Medical Center continually ranks among the top hospitals for cardiac surgery in the nation. Known for exceptional heart surgery outcomes, we are one of the few programs in the U.S. to consistently receive the Society for Thoracic Surgeons' highest 3-star rating.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Palliative Care: Helping Patients Live Their Best Lives

Lynn’s husband Steve was diabetic and diagnosed with end stage renal disease 11 years ago. Without warning, Steve’s condition turned critical three years ago. Desperate for guidance and strength, Lynn was connected to April and the Palliative Care team at Missouri Baptist Medical Center.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Her Heart Health

A woman's heart is different. Many women may not experience chest pain. Their warning signs are non-specific and often easily overlooked. 

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

New Technology for Treating Cardiac Arrhythmias

The new technology at MoBap — robotic magnetic navigation (RMN) — introduces the benefits of robotic precision and safety to cardiac ablation, a common, minimally invasive procedure used to treat arrhythmias

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Treating Coronary Artery Chronic Total Occlusion

The treatment options at the Missouri Baptist Heart Center continue to advance, and our patients have access to the latest technologies and treatment options. 

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Recovery is a Journey

Scott Winder had been having trouble breathing and wasn’t sleeping well. Like many people do, he dismissed the symptoms until one day at work, his suddenly racing heart, sweating and worsening breathing problems sent him to the  Emergency Department at Parkland Health Center in Farmington.

Scott walked through the doors of the emergency room and collapsed.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Losing More Than Sleep

Everybody suffers occasionally from not getting enough sleep. But a lack of sleep can do more than just make you feel tired the next day. Chronic sleep problems can be a contributing factor to more serious health problems.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right
Deborah Quesenberry volleys during paddleball.

An Unexpected Diagnosis

When Deborah Quesenberry attended the Missouri Baptist Heart Fair in February 2017, she wasn’t expecting to have a diagnosis of a serious health problem.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right
Tina, a MoBap cardiac surgery patient, has always been active and enjoys walking, biking and being outdoors.

Repairing a Broken Heart: A New Diagnosis Helps Heart Pump at Peak Efficiency

Although she had lived with a heart condition her entire life, Tina Lybarger Ledyard knew a few months ago that something just wasn’t right. As a nurse and a stroke network consultant, Tina noticed she was feeling more fatigued than usual. Read more here about her diagnosis and how she has renewed energy after heart surgery.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Living (Well) With Congestive Heart Failure

Follow these tips to live a healthier life with congestive heart failure.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Arrhythmia Center

At the Arrhythmia Center at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, we want to help you understand everything there is to know about arrhythmia, especially finding the right treatment just for you. Our goal is to keep you and your heart healthy.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Understanding Arrhythmia

We want to help you understand everything there is to know about arrhythmia, why they occur, how they are diagnosed and treated, and what options may be right for you.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right
Melissa and Chris post on the sofa with family photos all around.

Early Intervention Makes the Difference

Melissa Ham’s voice is still a little shaky when she recalls being told that her husband, Chris, had about a 1-in-3 chance of surviving the heart attack that occurred at their home on July 13, 2016.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right