MIAMI BEACH, FL (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) -- If running a marathon was easy, everyone would do it. The 26.2 mile race is tough for anyone-- especially for Paul Sykes. He ran one just weeks after heart surgery. He was born with a bad heart valve and knew someday he'd have to have it replaced.
Sykes says, "I was getting a lot of pain, chest pain. One day I went home after a run and I fainted, which was when I realized that surgery was not very far away," he says.
Sykes chose cardiac surgeon Joseph Lamelas, MD, Chief of Cardiac Surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center. One of the reasons he chose Lamelas was because of his approach to cardiac surgeries. Dr. Lamelas specializes in minimally invasive heart surgery. Meaning, instead of cracking the patient's ribs, he makes a small cut between them, just two inches long. Then, tiny cameras navigate for him-- minimizing trauma to the tissue.
Lamelas says, "The recovery time for traditional open heart operation is about four to six weeks; it could be as long as eight weeks. For a minimally invasive operation, the average is two to three weeks."
Just four weeks after his heart surgery, Sykes happily laced up his running shoes.
Sykes says, "The first run was such a great feeling not to have the chest pains anymore."
Doctor Lamelas says with traditional surgery, Sykes may never have been able to run comfortably again.
"Some of the patients have more discomfort long term as well," says Lamelas.
For Sykes, the real proof of victory came when, just a few months later he crossed the finish line at the New York City marathon.
He says, "My first thought was just sheer satisfaction. Pride, joy."
And now on to the Miami marathon!
Minimally invasive heart surgery also means a shorter hospital stay and less risk of infection.