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Department of Internal Medicine

Department of Internal Medicine

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Monday-Friday:
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Physician Referral Center
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and phone consultations:
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General information
Cardiovascular medicine:
916-734-3761

Health changes lead to life changes

Eve Holloway © UC Regents
Eve Holloway

It was a year of many changes for Eve Holloway. The middle school English teacher was transferred from where she had taught for almost two decades to a brand new high school and along with it a new boss, new colleagues, new classes and older, sometimes contentious, students.

“The politics of being at a new school were especially tough,” she recalled.

At the same time, she began experiencing chest pains. During one particularly bad episode at school, she couldn’t breathe. Her internist referred her to Reginald Low, chief of cardiology at UC Davis Health System, who ordered a stress test, and this detected a blockage in her heart arteries.

“Essentially, that was the cause of all my chest-pain episodes,” said Holloway.

To repair the damage, Low – a renowned interventional cardiologist – performed an invasive procedure called angioplasty, where a catheter is inserted into the artery and a balloon expanded to widen the blocked area. He then added a stent to keep the vessel open and strengthen the arterial walls. In Holloway’s case, the blockage occluded 98 percent of her left anterior descending artery – a major supplier of blood to the heart.

Since the procedure, Holloway has started taking medication for high cholesterol, and she made some lifestyle changes as well.

“I was referred to cardiac rehab,” she said, referring to UC Davis’ comprehensive program for helping heart patients with physical activity and healthy eating. Soon, she transitioned her exercise program to a gym in her community. Today, she walks with a friend for 90 minutes a day, five days a week in her Davis, Calif., neighborhood.

She also has regular appointments with Low, who “is terrific,” she said. “He listens to me. He shares my labs. He provides all the information I request or need to know, and he never rushes me to make decisions. He is also extremely kind.”

The biggest change came when she concluded her 22-year teaching career. 

“Being retired has been great for me,” she said. “I have a tendency to be a worrier, but right now I really have nothing to worry about. There are no work issues. Our kids (three, all grown) are doing well and our finances are fine.  I’ve especially liked having the freedom to read, travel with my husband and enjoy my unencumbered life.”

The treatments combined with her lifestyle changes have worked. She’s been episode-free for nearly 10 years, with the exception of a couple of small scares.

“If I experience anything that even comes close to that same feeling I had in school that day, I immediately check in with my physician,” she said. “So far, it’s only been heartburn once and I think a panic attack the second time.”

She also has regular appointments with Low, who “is terrific,” she said. “He listens to me. He shares my labs. He provides all the information I request or need to know, and he never rushes me to make decisions. He is also extremely kind.”

Holloway, who refers to herself as “a walking example that what a person is going through psychologically can affect her physically,” considers herself very lucky, because she can also worry less about her heart.

“All of my labs have been within normal range,” she said. “I’ve been able to do what I need to do to stay healthy. And I am very comfortable knowing that I have excellent medical care.”