Joe Venzon is a man of strong faith. So, it’s no surprise it was his faith in the doctors and care team at UnityPoint Health that helped saved his life.
In 2018, Venzon, a Catholic Deacon in Washington, Illinois, was in search of a new primary care physician. He was referred to Matthew McMillin, MD at UnityPoint Clinic – MDVIP in Peoria. During an initial physical in 2018, Dr. McMillin performed an unfamiliar sonogram screening called Carotid Intima Media Thickness testing (CIMT) that forever changed Venzon’s life. That test revealed moderate blockage to Venzon’s right carotid artery and Dr. McMillin created a monitoring plan and prescribed a medication to lower Venzon’s cholesterol.
“I’ve had physicals, but I’ve never had one where the doctor did a sonogram of the carotid arteries in my neck. I mean, it was something entirely new for me and it turns out it saved my life. He’s the only doctor I know of that does this testing,” says Venzon.
Then in 2019, Dr. McMillin performed a second CIMT and discovered the blockage had grown and needed attention. After a CT angiogram and other testing, Venzon was referred to Scott Reid, DO, a board-certified vascular surgeon at UnityPoint Health with expertise in cutting-edge vascular procedures.
“Dr. Reid came into the consultation room where my wife and I were waiting and discussed the results. He was very calm and reassuring. That gave me the freedom and support I needed to make the right decision to have this surgery,” says Venzon.
“It was clear Joe needed our help. He needed immediate carotid intervention to minimize his long-term stroke risk. We made sure he understood all of his options and he agreed that he was in good hands and wanted to go ahead with the procedure,” says Dr. Reid.
Venzon underwent Transcarotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR) which briefly reverses the direction of blood flow to reduce the risk of stroke during the procedure. Venzon’s TCAR was performed by Dr. Reid and Jan Namyslowski, MD of Specialist in Medical Imaging, S.C. They’re the only physicians in Central Illinois doing this procedure.
“Before the surgery, I told them – ‘You have a lot of people praying for you, a lot of people praying,” says Venzon. “The surgery was a huge success. It gave me peace of mind. I’m a blessed man with 15 grandchildren, 12 who are living. I’m very thankful and very grateful to these wonderful doctors.”
“What I love most about my UnityPoint Clinic MDVIP practice is the time and ability I am afforded to truly coordinate my patients’ care. We definitely have the resources and specialists at UnityPoint to provide the best and most innovative care possible to the community. Joe’s case is just one example of why I am so proud of the work we are able to accomplish together,” says Dr. McMillin
If you’d like to learn more about TCAR or about Dr. McMillin’s practice and CIMT testing, visit unitypoint.org.
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