For the media

Heart disease diagnosis a ‘wow' moment for local man

By The Health News Team | May 25, 2023
Phil Hannes of San Diego overlooks a lake

Phil Hannes is glad to be back to the life he loves after treatment for heart valve disease at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.

Phillip Hannes was living the good life.

Happily married for 31 years, Phil, as he’s known, and his wife were enjoying time — usually including great food — with their five children and six grandchildren. Phil knew how lucky he was, so he didn’t take anything for granted — well, almost anything.

Phil took daily walks and had a consistent regimen of vitamins and a generally healthy diet. However, he wasn’t taking his prescribed cholesterol medication, which eventually brought him to Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. There, he was diagnosed with triple vessel disease. The diagnosis meant three of his four heart vessels were in bad shape and a massive heart attack could be awaiting him at any moment.

That fateful day

The prior 24 hours had seemed normal. Phil had gone to a dentist appointment, where he learned his blood pressure was high. But he continued on with his day. The next morning, he began feeling tightness in his chest.

Phil knew he needed to get care immediately and planned on going to an urgent care clinic; but his wife knew that because it was an issue with his chest, he needed to go to the ER. They hardly had time to process their shock after they arrived and Phil was immediately admitted to the ICU.

“Two days before, I was walking my dog,” Phil says. “It was a ‘wow’ moment.”

Phil was visited by Dr. Kambiz Shetabi, an interventional cardiologist, and Dr. Alexandra Kharazi, a cardiothoracic surgeon, both affiliated with Sharp Chula Vista, who explained his condition and discussed his options. He was also visited by his Sharp-affiliated primary care physician, Dr. Martha Lozano, who asked if he had been taking his cholesterol medication.

No, Phil admitted, explaining he didn’t like taking medication. He then learned what that decision had led to: His best option at that point was quadruple bypass surgery. Phil was nervous — he had never had anything worse than a fractured foot bone.

“It’s scary — you start thinking anything could go wrong,” Phil says. “Dr. Kharazi made me feel good. She said my condition, my age, my physical — everything gave me very good odds. I said, ‘I’ll take them.’”

Modern advances offer a welcome relief

According to Dr. Kharazi, being faced with open heart surgery can be anxiety provoking. But the technical advances and focus on safety measures in recent years have led to faster recovery and better outcomes.

“This is often reassuring to patients during our preoperative discussion,” Dr. Kharazi says. “Mr. Hannes was a good candidate for surgery, with encouraging factors, including the heart muscle still having strong function and the valves working well. We discussed his postoperative care in detail, including diet, exercise and the importance of medications.”

The surgery went well and Phil was in much less pain than he expected. Dr. Kharazi checked on him every day.

“My room was beautiful and comfortable,” Phil says. “The communication with my nurses and doctors was great. If I ever needed something, they were quick to respond. I think all of that, and having the support of my wife, helped me get better quicker.”

Grateful — and paying it forward

Once home, Phil’s family ensured everything was prepared for him. He used his smart phone to monitor his blood pressure and kept records to share with his doctor. His wife changed the way she cooked, using less or no salt, and Phil started reading food labels.

Phil now uses the treadmill for close to an hour each workout and is starting to lift weights. Looking ahead, he is grateful for the second chance he’s been given and pays it forward whenever he can.

“A lot of people don’t know what happened because I didn’t tell them,” Phil says. “Now, when they see me, they tell me I look great. I tell them I made a mistake — not listening to my doctor and taking my prescriptions — that maybe could have prevented this from happening.”

Learn more about heart valve disease during Dr. Kharazi’s upcoming free webinar, Advanced Treatments for Heart Valve Disease, hosted by Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center on Thursday, June 22.

For the news media: To speak with Phil Hannes or Dr. Kharazi for an upcoming story, please contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at

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