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Nicholas Harper

Treated for PAD

Holy Name Patient Stories - Nicholas Harper

For 74-year-old Nicholas Harper, putting socks on every day was an excruciating ordeal. "I had to wear slip on shoes all the time because I couldn't lace anything up but the shoes weren't as hard as the socks. Putting on socks was very difficult. It was crippling."

Harper had a history of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. His ankles were swollen and it was getting increasingly difficult to sleep. Harper, who used to travel frequently around the world and the United States for his work, also found himself traveling less and less as time went on. "I could barely stand up when I got off the plane," he says. "I just hated it. It became too difficult. I thought it was arthritis and just part of getting older."

A few years ago, Harper was diagnosed with peripheral artery disease at another facility in Bergen County. He met with other surgeons to discuss his case. An advertisement on the Internet for Holy Name Medical Center changed his mind about where he should receive his care. "I was driving by Holy Name and it let up with spirituality and I saw the light around this place. Then I see an advertisement about Holy Name and PAD and I call the number and there was Dr. Herman." Harper, who works as a spiritual healer, trusted his instincts.

Harper was told he may have been living with PAD in both legs for the past 10 to 15 years. His first procedure with Dr. Herman was exploratory "and that's when they discovered both legs were severely affected," says Harper. "The right leg was completely blocked and the left leg was 90 percent blocked. I wasn't getting any blood flow to my legs."

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) affects one in every 20 Americans age 50 and older. Risk factors include elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, being diabetic, and having a history of heart disease or stroke. The condition occurs when plaque builds up in the legs cutting off blood flow. Many people with PAD do not feel any symptoms, however, over time, patients can experience fatigue, pain in the legs, numbness, swelling and even color changes in the skin on the feet.

To restore blood flow, the blockages in Harper's legs were simultaneously removed by Dr. Kevin Herman and Dr. John Rundback who performed the Pelvic Angiogram, angioplasty and stenting. During his recovery, Harper felt tingling in his feet, which at first scared him, until physicians told him that he was simply regaining sensation and blood flow in his legs.

Within days of the procedure, Harper was walking along Palisades Park in the Hudson River. He has a history of high cholesterol and continues to take Simvastatin to keep his cholesterol levels in check.

Harper praises Dr. Herman for "adding a few extra years to my life" and recommends Dr. Herman to anyone. "I thought I was going to be in a wheelchair," says Harper. "But Dr. Herman is a very special soul. There's an enormous amount of integrity in this man. What really resonated with me was the quality of his work, his spirit and he's just funny. He's extremely competent and doesn't oversell himself. Other places were like 'go, go, go' with all the PAD information and testing, but Dr. Herman took time to explain things and make me comfortable."

Dr. Herman also managed to convince Harper to adopt some healthier lifestyle habits to keep PAD from recurring. "I ate too many fatty foods like the fat on a steak," Harper says. "I loved it. I ate too much cholesterol and I had to change my diet. Dr. Herman talked to me about that, about watching my cholesterol and walking and stretching more. I eat a lot more vegetables now and a lot less meat."

Married for 37 years, Harper says grocery shopping used to be too painful so he would sit in the car and wait for his wife to finish up in the store. He walked with a cane and limited his movement. After the surgery, "I got my life back," he says. "The cane stays in the car in case of emergencies, but I can now go for a walk, about a quarter of a mile with no pain. I haven't done that in years. It was like I had a pair of dead legs coming back to life."

Learn more about Peripheral Arterial Disease at Holy Name