A Family United Against Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention

About 12 years ago, Sanford “Sandy” Spitzer suddenly experienced double vision while on the golf course. His eye doctor referred him to a cardiologist who determined Spitzer had a transient ischemic attack, or TIA. At the time, the cardiologist didn’t feel any additional care was necessary.

This didn’t sit well with Spitzer’s daughter who is a physician in Wisconsin. She suggested her father seek a second opinion from her former classmate, Craig Reiss, MD, a Washington University cardiologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Dr. Reiss recommended medication and follow-up care to prevent a full-blown stroke. After a TIA, symptoms usually disappear within 24 hours. However, once a person has had a TIA, the likelihood of stroke is dramatically higher.

“I’ve been treated by Dr. Reiss ever since,” Spitzer says. “I believe his care made the difference.”

Less than a year ago, Spitzer had a stent implanted to open a significant blockage in his artery—the same artery that caused a massive heart attack in Sandy’s brother more than 20 years before.

Spitzer’s wife, Gloria, has also faced heart issues. Gloria’s heart care goes back more than 25 years with Scott Nordlicht, MD, Washington University cardiologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. After experiencing chest pains, Gloria had her first angiogram at age 53.

Dr. Nordlicht diagnosed her with small-vessel heart disease, a condition in which the small arteries of the heart become blocked, rather than the large arteries. This type of heart disease is more common in women and often difficult to detect.

“At Barnes-Jewish Hospital, more doctors are now investigating heart disease in women, which doesn’t always have the same symptoms as in men,” Gloria says. “Dr. Nordlicht works to find the right medications to care for me. As a result, at age 79, I live a good life and do everything I want to do despite having heart disease.”

These achievements, combined with the excellent care the Spitzers have received, sparked a desire in the Spitzers to broaden this care—and their support. For decades, they have supported The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital in honor of loved ones. They have contributed to leukemia and palliative care funds in recognition of family members.

Today, they are excited to support the heart care that has kept them healthy for decades and they want to ensure that it will continue to benefit their family— and the community—for years to come. To that end, the Spitzers recently established “The Sanford and Gloria Spitzer Endowed Fellowship Fund in honor of Dr. Scott Nordlicht and Dr. Craig Reiss.” A fellowship is dedicated support for young physicians to provide early experience in medical research in their specialty area. This endowment creates a fellowship in the new Heart & Vascular Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

“Our family has been well taken care of and we want to give back,” Gloria says. “With our gift, we felt we could attract more cardiologists like Drs. Nordlicht, Reiss, and Alan Weiss, MD, who cared for Sandy’s brother.”

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