After a Triple Bypass Three Years Ago, Where is He Now?   

After a Triple Bypass Three Years Ago, Where is He Now?

Joe Leone Introna and son
In 2019, we shared the story of Joe Leone Introna. His worst fears of following a family history of heart-related deaths at a young age almost became reality, when at age 42, he was rushed to Jersey Shore University Medical Center with chest, arm and jaw pain.

Triple bypass surgery and cardiac rehabilitation saved his life and got this professional chef and local business owner on a new path for heart health.

We checked in with Joe recently, who provided some photos enjoying life with his son and carving a sculpture. Here’s what he had to say:

Joe Leone Introna

Q: How have you been feeling since your heart surgery at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in 2018?

A: So far, so good. I continue regular visits with my cardiologist, take medication to reduce my cholesterol, and I get necessary tests that the doctor recommends. When I first had the heart surgery, I clearly remember my doctors saying, “You don’t have a new heart. You have new valves and still need to take care of it, and keep the blood flowing.” I listened to that advice and have been committed to leading a healthier lifestyle ever since.

Q: What have you changed in your life to stay heart healthy?

A: About a year ago I decided to have gastric sleeve surgery. Even though I was doing the right things to be heart healthy, I still had some bad habits. Afterall, I’m an Italian American who is around food all the time! I was still overweight and struggled with self-control. I believe in the technology used for the sleeve surgery and it’s made a huge difference. I’ve lost a lot of weight – down to a weight I haven’t seen since high school – and I feel really good and have more energy now. It’s important to enjoy life and make healthy choices. I take my medication, exercise regularly, watch my sugar, and eat smaller quantities in moderation.

If you’re thinking about getting gastric sleeve surgery, or another weight loss surgery, consider attending a complimentary weight loss surgery webinar where you can learn about your options and hear from experts across Hackensack Meridian Health.

Q: How have you been keeping healthy during the pandemic?

A: I was really concerned when the pandemic started. I thought, “If I get this with my heart condition, what could happen to me?” I’ve been very careful to practice social distancing, handwashing, and wearing a mask. I have been mindful about my heart health as well. I walk my dog a lot, keep up my boxing in the basement instead of going to a gym, have been exercising with my son as he is training for the military, and I make sure that I stick to my diet. Mental health has been equally important, and my family has enjoyed spending more time together.

Q: What would you want people to learn from your experience?

A: Don’t sweat the small stuff! We all need to appreciate life more, enjoy every single minute and stay positive. And even though we are all dealing with COVID-19, people should know that there is no safer place to be than at a hospital or doctor’s office. If you are not feeling well or have a family history of heart problems, you need to take care of yourself.

Next Steps and Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.


Subscribe to get the latest health tips from our expert clinicians delivered weekly to your inbox.

Breaking the Chain of Heart Attack

Not many people are worried about having a heart attack in their 40s. But for Joe Leone Introna, the approach of his 42nd birthday cast a dark shadow of concern. Six of his male rela...

Life After Bypass

When Jeffrey Wells woke up one Saturday morning in August 2020 feeling “like an elephant was on my chest,” the retired police officer’s first inclination was to relax and wait a few minutes until he felt better.

Cardiac Calcium Scan Saves One Man’s Life

When team members were recruited to test the new cardiac calcium scan procedure, Kevin Jester, signed up, not because he had any worries about his heart health - he just wanted to do his part.

The Little Engine That Could: Impella® Device

Typically, we photograph every patient appearing in HealthU. Because this story was planned during the surge of COVID-19, that contact would have been too risky. Instead, our team took a creative approach and replaced photo shoots with illustrated portraits of patients.

Big Heart, Big Fix

Attorney Gerald Dienst was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation in 2012. Today, a remarkable new device is reducing his risk of blood clots and stroke, and ensuring he can continue helping his clients.

We use cookies to improve your experience. Please read our Privacy Policy or click Accept.