VIEW TRIBUTE VIDEO TO DR. K
Crouse Hospital Chief Executive Officer Paul Kronenberg, MD, describes a decision he made last summer as “incredibly stupid.”
Why the admission? Because he recognizes his outcome was fortunate — and wants to warn others about knowing when it’s time to call 911, so they’re just as lucky.
Looking back, Dr. K, as he’s affectionately known, now knows the fatigue he was experiencing last summer was not merely suggestive of a much-needed vacation.
After a quick weekend trip to Boston to visit his son and family, the board-certified internist returned home for a week of relaxation and family time. An avid bicyclist, Dr. K ventured out for one of his typical rides, but had to call it quits after just eight miles. “It was a very hot and humid day, but I’d ridden in conditions like that on many other occasions,” he recalls. “This time was different, and I knew, deep down, something was wrong.”
However, he dismissed physical symptoms he’d been experiencing the prior week: discomfort in his upper abdomen and lower chest, along with a recurring sense of exhaustion. Once back home from the ride, Dr. K instinctively reached for the aspirin bottle.
“When my wife asked if I was having a heart attack, I quickly dismissed her,” he said, and then took a nap with his beloved canine companion, Simon. Rested, he felt more himself and the symptoms ceased. During the last days of his vacation, Dr. K relaxed, but also did full workouts in his home gym.
“I was kidding myself, though,” he admits. Back at work the next week, the fatigue and vague sense of not feeling “quite right” continued. On a Wednesday, after a morning of meetings, the doctor-turned-CEO made an executive decision.
At noon, Dr. K left his office and walked across the street to Internist Associates of Central New York, the primary care practice he joined 30 years ago. He found Seth Kronenberg, MD, his son, and asked to have an EKG performed, stating, “I think I may have had a heart attack.”
Diagnosis: Heart Attack
The results of the EKG confirmed those suspicions, and he quickly returned to the hospital, this time via wheelchair, bound for the Diane and Bob Miron Cardiac Care Center. A procedure called a cardiac catheterization was performed, revealing several blockages. Ultimately three stents were inserted to open the arteries, and after an appropriate recuperation, Dr. K. was able to return to work, followed by full activity and his exercise program.
Having a family history of heart disease (his father, also a physician, died at age 59, with sudden cardiac arrest), he had smartly followed a precautionary regimen of a cholesterol lowering drug and baby aspirin for the past decade.
But Dr. K confesses “ignoring my heart attack symptoms was just plain stupid.” He knows his story could have easily had a different ending because of his delay in treatment. “Quick diagnosis and care for heart attack, and stroke, is critical,” he says.
Words to Live By
Although he’s returned to good health, Dr. K is stepping aside as CEO and will help transition the hospital’s leadership through June 2014. A proud and doting grandfather (shown here with all but one of his gradnchildren), he looks forward to spending more time with family and pursuing his interests.
Dr. Kronenberg offers this advice for good heart health: Learn the warning signs of cardiac issues, as well as meet our team of Crouse cardiologists. Talk with your doctor, and follow his or her advice. Eat well, exercise regularly, stop smoking and cope with stress. Listen to your body — and know when to call for help.
Crouse Hospital Cardiologists