Dr. Christopher Paris Cardiovascular Institute of the South For the feature on Doctors in Voila! 2013Dr. Christopher Paris (BS ’00)

3 years in practice | Interventional Cardiology | Cardiovascular Institute of the South (CIS), Luling

“It’s an unbelievable jump from college to medical school, but the Nicholls pre-med program gave me a head start. The curriculum included a great amount of pre-professional classes that were similar to those I took my first year of med school.”

I had just started working at CIS in Houma when I received an emergency call in the middle of the night. A man in his mid-50s with seemingly no prior cardiovascular problems had arrived at Terrebonne General Medical Center with symptoms of a heart attack.

When I arrived at the hospital, I diagnosed him with an acute myocardial infarction. This was only my second acute heart attack patient as an attending physician. When you’re in training as a resident and fellow, someone more experienced is always watching over you, so it takes a while to realize that you can operate on your own. But my eight years of training quickly kicked in as I placed a stent in his coronary artery and watched his vital signs improve.

The next day, the patient took an unexpected turn for the worse. The stent was working perfectly, but the patient’s health continued to decline. His kidneys began to shut down, and dialysis was needed. We placed a special balloon pump in his heart as well as a pacemaker in his chest to help his heart beat regularly. Sedated and on a ventilator, the patient was returned to the Intensive Care Unit.

The hardest part was telling his family that the man who had seemed completely healthy a couple of days ago now had a high chance of dying. It was difficult for them to understand that the best course of action at this time was to step back and let the body repair itself. Despite all of today’s advanced medical technology, sometimes the best medicine is just to watch and wait, but that’s not easy.

A week later, the patient was starting to improve and wake up. His heart and kidney functions were all improving. A very exciting moment for me was telling the family that the patient did not need any special equipment to sustain a pulse or breathing. Using the ventilator and balloon pump allowed his heart the time it needed to recover and repair itself.

Today, the patient is back at work and living a normal life. He and his wife hug me every time they come to the clinic. That’s why I chose the field of medicine and the specialty of cardiology. I am able to take care of critically ill patients in a hospital setting, perform procedures and follow patients in clinic. I get the immediate gratification of helping patients during some of their most dire times, as well as the long-term gratification of caring for these patients for the rest of their lives.

— Written by Stephanie Verdin, publications coordinator

This article originally appeared in the fall 2013 issue of Voila! magazine. Click here to read the entire issue.