If every American adult began each day taking one aspirin, one cholesterol-reducing statin drug and one blood-pressure drug called ACE inhibitors, cardiologists would be out of business in 20 years, Dave
There, Dr. Vijay Dave
(pronounced Dah-vay) shared a tiny, crowded home with his
newlywed wife, Ranjan, parents and extended family.In this country, they would be called poor.Dave
Today, on National Doctors Day, The Times
profiles the silver-haired Dave
, one of the leading cardiovascular physicians in the region with seemingly more titles than a public library.Dave
, like many doctors, doesn't fit the stereotype of gliding through life with silver spoons and fancy cars on a fast track to riches.Like Dave, many doctors studied at the class of hard knocks before graduating medical school and hanging a shingle.
In the early 1970s, while serving a residency at a Chicago hospital, a younger Dave
made ends meet by piercing thousands of ears, considered minor surgery at the time.He
also cut corners by buying daily items at the VA clinic's gift shop because it didn't charge doctors a sales tax.He
lived with friends, didn't own a home or car and struggled until each $900 monthly paycheck.
Worse yet, a Northwest Indiana hospital CEO once told him flatly: "You have no future here."
The CEO was wrong.
Yet a 60-year-old Dave
hasn't forgotten his
While making his
daily rounds at St. Mary Medical Center
in Hobart last week, Dave
bounced between patients, signing discharge papers, filling medicine scripts and offering health suggestions along the way -- without charging a co-payment.
First tip: If every American adult began each day taking one aspirin, one cholesterol-reducing statin drug and one blood-pressure drug called ACE inhibitors, cardiologists like Dave
would be out of business in 20 years, he
said."I do it myself," said Dave, St. Mary's medical education director.
These days, nearly every patient leaving his
care is sent home with multiple prescriptions, as opposed to when he
first started practicing.For hypertension alone, each patient averages 3.2 prescriptions, he
Another tip: Four out of five people over age 70 have hypertension, "the silent killer," and don't know it, he
One doctor who died of cardiac arrest was found with his
stomach full of Tums, Dave
said, shaking his
When a male patient lives beyond a heart attack, "the Rev. Dave" often calls their wives with a sermon for a new lifestyle: Less red meat and fatty foods, proper medication and more exercise.
"And plentiful sex," Dave
said, chuckling to himself.Dave
has had patients die of cardiac arrest just minutes after he
performs an angioplasty procedure on them.But he's
also extended people's lives who were sentenced to death years ago, including one patient who drives from Alabama for his
"That credit goes to somebody upstairs," Dave
said, looking up.
At every hospital visit, with every patient and family, doctors like Dave
are asked myriad questions: What does this pain mean?What is the diagnosis, the prognosis, the day of discharge, the plan of attack?Will I die?How much of a chance do you give me?
When asked how his
ego stays in check with all this awarded empowerment, Dave
stopped dead in his
-- The largest organ in the human body is not the skin, but the inner lining of blood vessels called the endothelium, which could span a football field if spread out, Dr. Vijay Dave
said. -- Viagra was initially created as a remedy for heart problems, as a way to dilate blood vessels. "But it didn't work as well for the heart as it does for the penis," Dave
said."It's now a billion-dollar by-product."