PIKEVILLE – In her early 20s, Tiffany Fronto weighed 325 lbs., and suffered from high blood pressure and knee problems.

In December 2011, Fronto underwent gastric by-pass surgery through the Pikeville Medical Weight Loss Surgery Center. 

“I wanted to undergo weight loss surgery a long time ago, but it just didn’t work out for me,” said Fronto. “Like most people, I had already tried everything under the sun. Having weight loss surgery at Pikeville Medical Center is the best decision I have made. I feel great.”

Having lost 180 lbs., Fronto recently met her goal of 145 lbs.

Fronto reflected, “It’s been a really good journey, but it’s not been easy and it’s not a quick fix. Being successful requires getting your mindset right so you can put into it the work it requires. You are not going to come out of surgery and be completely changed. You are still the same person you were before surgery; you still have the same thinking. You did not gain weight overnight, so you are not going to lose weight overnight. You have to work to meet your goal.”

During the first three months post-surgery, patients experience many changes and are asked to make several lifestyle adjustments.

Fronto continued, “In the beginning there was a point where I thought, ‘What have I done?’ But I think once you can get past that and stop getting discouraged, you can get into the habit of making smarter and healthier choices. Making a lifestyle change takes some adjusting.”

Fronto recommends weight loss surgery patients take baby steps.

“It’s very important to set realistic and specific goals,” said Fronto. “I kept a calendar to track my weight twice a week. I would set weekly goals to either maintain or lose weight.Reaching little goals keeps you motivated for the future.”

PMC’s Weight Loss Surgery Center has helped Fronto every step of the way.

“PMC’s weight loss surgery staff is wonderful,” said Fronto. “Anytime you have a question about even the smallest thing, you can ask them. They are more than willing to work with you and give you the answers you need to stay on track. They are not just there for you during surgery, they offer life-long support.”

Even though she has been successful, Fronto experienced setbacks.

She explains, “Weight loss surgery patients are going to experience backslides. Nobody is perfect. You are not going to make the best decisions 365 days a year. You are going to mess up and fall off the bandwagon, but when you do you have to get back up. You’re only unsuccessful if you stay off.”

PMC’s Weight loss surgery Reclaim Your Life Support Groups helped give Fronto the encouragement she needed.

“It’s wonderful to meet with other people who have gone through the same thing you are. If you are struggling - have fallen off course - they understand and are there to pick you back up,” explained Fronto

Now that she has met her goal weight, Fronto has made healthy habits a part of her life.

“Working out and eating healthy has become a part of who I am,” she said. “Before, I thought it was a ‘have to’ thing, but now I want to. This has definitely been a lifestyle change for me. After reaching my goal, I cannot go back to my old lifestyle. This was not a temporary fix, so it cannot be a temporary change.”

Fronto’s success from Weight loss surgery has given her confidence.

 â€œWhen I first started working out, I was the person in the back of the room because I didn’t want anyone to see me. Now, I am the person in the front of the room because I want to look at myself.”

Fronto encourages others who may be struggling with their weight. “I understand. I’ve been there before. I know how it is to feel like you don’t want to do certain things because you’re heavier. You think everyone is looking at you. In moments like those, you have to decide if you really want to make a change...Beginnings are not easy, but once you get past the hump, it does get easier.”

PMC’s Weight Loss Surgery Center is a Center of Excellence and is dedicated to providing its patients with the best care possible. For more information about PMC’s Weight Loss Surgery Center and the services it provides, call 606-218-4811.

PIKEVILLE - Pikeville Medical Center’s Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Bill Harris recently completed National Geographic’s Mount Everest Base Camp Trek.

After carrying a 25-pound backpack for 16 days up Mount Everest, Dr. Harris reached base camp at 18,000 feet.

At this altitude there is a little more than half the oxygen content in the air.

Before taking on this adventure, Dr. Harris had completed a climb to Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, Africa.

“The adventure to Mount Everest Base Camp was a lot of fun, but physically it was a lot harder than Kilimanjaro,” said Dr. Harris.

“We spent 16 days on the mountain, with a day’s hike reaching 2,500-3,000 feet. It was not uncommon to trek six to eight hours a day, with a couple of 10-hour days.”

To prepare for Mt. Everest and to maintain stamina for future adventures, Dr. Harris completes 30 minutes on his incline trainer every morning.

“Like everyone else, I don’t always want to get up and workout, but I do,” said Harris.

“The higher incline and slower pace the incline trainer provides allows me to burn more calories and build more muscle.”

Dr. Harris also focuses on strength training.

“Before taking on Mount Everest, I knew I needed to add strength training into my workout...something that would build muscle in my legs, back, shoulders and upper body.  I started working out at Roger’s Fitness and Roger did such a fantastic job preparing me for the trek.”

Dr. Harris works out at Roger’s Fitness two to three times a week.

“Before I started working out at Roger’s I never really paid much attention to strength training,” Harris said. “Now I know that combining aerobic and muscle building activity really makes a big difference.”

Dr. Harris encourages others to add exercise into their daily routine.

“You don’t have to go to extremes and climb Everest, but everyone needs to create some personal time in their day to exercise,” said Harris.

“Everyone has legitimate excuses why not to work out, but it is  important to make the time.”

Dr. Harris also challenges community leaders and organizations to get involved.

“I challenge local civic organizations, Rotary, Kiwanis and the City of Pikeville to live by example...to work together to create a Pikeville City plan that will improve our community’s fitness and make it easier and more enjoyable for people to work out.”

Source: National Geographic Expeditions


PIKEVILLE – Pikeville Medical Weight Loss Surgery Center will host the first Reclaim Your Life 5K (3.2 mile) race and one mile fun run/walk on Saturday, May 4.

Registration for the event will start at 8 a.m. at the plaza of the East Kentucky Expo Center, in Pikeville. The 5K race will begin at 9 a.m. and the one mile fun run/walk will take place at 9:10 a.m.

The race will begin and end on Main Street. Clear mile markers and signage will be placed on the course to direct participants.

Trophies will be presented to the top three male and female finishers, and all participants will receive a certificate.

Individual entry fees are as follows:

•$12 – early registration (must be received by Monday, April 29)

•$15 – day of race

•$8 – group rate (group of eight or more)

To register before the race, complete the Reclaim Your Life 5K registration form  (or try the jpg version HERE)and mail it, along with your entry fee, to:

Pikeville Medical Center; Public Relations Department; Attn: Jessica Howard; 911 Bypass Road; Pikeville, KY  41501.

The completed registration form and entry fee can be dropped off in person to PMC’s Public Relations Department, located on the first floor of the Medical Leader building, 116 Main Street, Pikeville.  Registration may also be completed on the day of the race.

All proceeds from the race will benefit under insured PMC Weight Loss Surgery patients. The PMC weight loss surgery center staff is dedicated to helping others lead an active, fit and healthy lifestyle.

Free refreshments will be provided. T-shirts will be available, while supplies last.

“The Pikeville Medical Weight Loss Surgery Center staff and I are very excited about this event. This walk/run will be fun for the whole family. Regular exercise is one of the best steps toward a healthy, better quality life, and we encourage everyone to come out and participate,” said PMC’s Bariatric Surgeon Amy Johnson.

For more information regarding the race, call Pikeville Medical Center’s Public Relations Department at 606-218-4509.


HEART HEALTHY FASHION SHOW: Pikeville Medical Center Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Bill Harris, bottom, educated a standing-room only crowd on how to stay heart healthy during PMC’s fourth annual Heart Healthy Fashion Show & Awareness Day on February 21. 

People turned out in record numbers for this year’s  event, which featured a fashion show hosted by Miss Kentucky Jessica Casebolt as well as free health screenings, educational information, heart-healthy refreshments and recipes, and door prizes. 

Additional photos may be viewed on the Medical Leader’s Facebook page.

PIKEVILLE – National Sleep Awareness Week, March 3-10, is the National Sleep Foundation’s campaign to celebrate the health benefits from a good night’s sleep.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults typically need between seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Although, several people don’t get near this amount.

Over time, sleep deprivation may affect health and quality of life. Some of the negative consequences associated with a lack of sleep, include:

•Decreased performance and alertness

•Impaired memory  and the ability to process information

•Hindered relationships

•Increased risk for injuries

If not treated, a lack of sleep has also proven to be associated with several medical illnesses, such as high blood obesity, depression, mood disorders, attention deficit disorder (ADD), heart attack, heart failure and stroke.

Too much sleep (more than seven to nine hours a night) can also cause many health problems including: diabetes, obesity, headaches, back pain, depression and heart disease.

The National Sleep Foundation refers to sleep as vital to our health and well-being, saying it is just as important as diet and exercise.

The foundation goes on to give the following tips to help achieve a better night’s sleep:

•Establish a regular bed and wake time

•Avoid nicotine altogether

•Avoid caffeine at bedtime

•Avoid alcohol

•Exercise regularly, completing workouts at least three hours before bedtime

•Establish a consistent, relaxing “wind-down” bedtime routine

•Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet and comfortable

If you are not getting enough sleep, or if you are sleeping too much talk to your primary health care provider.

Pikeville Medical Center’s Sleep Center is the region’s only accredited sleep center, and treats a variety of sleep disorders in adults and children. 

There are three convenient locations, throughout the region including:

•Pikeville Medical Sleep Center, located at 911 Bypass Road, Pikeville

•Whitesburg Sleep Center, located at 60 Main Street, Whitesburg

•Prestonsburg Sleep Center, located at 204 Collins Circle, Prestonsburg

To schedule a visit with PMC’s sleep center, or for more information about treatments and services, call 606-218-3989.


National Sleep Foundation and WebMD

Medical Leader | JESSICA HOWARD
ROAD TO RECOVERY: Pikeville Medical Center Cardiac Rehabilitation patient Johnny Shepherd says cardiologists saved his life following his recent open-heart surgery.

PIKEVILLE - Johnny Shepherd of Pikeville cannot say enough about the care he received at Pikeville Medical Center.

After suffering for years with stomach and chest pain, Shepherd visited PMC Cardiologist Dr. Denzel Harris.

“After eating, I had the worst pain in my stomach that would radiate into the chest,” said Shepherd. “The way the pain radiated up, it felt as if someone was shooting 120 volts into me. It really hurt.”

Shepherd continues, “But each time, I would stop whatever I was doing and sit down for about 10 to 15 minutes, and it would go away. My chest was not tight, my breathing was fine and I didn’t experience dizziness or nausea.”

Shepherd assumed his pain was related to acid reflux or gallbladder issues. He also experienced significant weight gain and circulation problems in his left leg.

He had a stress test conducted for his heart and passed.

“I had met my target, my heart didn’t explode, my chest wasn’t bothering me and I didn’t even get short winded,” he said.

After the stress test, Dr. Harris performed a scan on his heart and identified three major blockages. He was in need of triple by-pass surgery.

“When I found out I needed heart surgery, I wasn’t frightened and I didn’t worry,” said Shepherd. “I had lived a good life and had some things other people would love to have experienced. I thought, ‘I’m not going to worry; let’s get it on.’”

He was soon scheduled for surgery with PMC Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeon Dr. Dennis Havens.

“I was so pleased with the way everything went,” said Shepherd. “I was very impressed with the preparations for my surgery. The staff kept me informed every step of the way, and their demeanor was so calm and relaxing. Nothing was a surprise. This made such a difference; it helped me not get nervous...it made me feel so good and positive about the procedure and the staff taking care of me.”

“Everything was managed so professionally. To this day, I speak very highly of Dr. Havens, Dr. Bill Harris, Dr. Denzel Harris, and all the staff that took part in my care. They were so thorough and did such an excellent job.”

Shepherd commented on the importance of receiving quality care close to home.

“I am so pleased with what Pikeville Medical Center has done by bringing in quality physicians and preparing the hospital to provide these services. Being able to have surgery here is important, because this is your home and you get to know your health care providers on a one on one basis.”

“I tell everyone, this has been a wonderful experience. I know what is happening here, and I know the people here really care about me...What they say is true...They do a good job at PMC.”

He highly recommends PMC’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. “Going to Cardiac Rehab is one of the greatest things after surgery to do,” said Shepherd. “The staff monitors you and keeps you in check.”

“You meet people who went through the same thing you have gone through, and you are able to talk about your situation, what happened and how it happened. They become your friends.”

Today, Shepherd participates in PMC’s second stage of Cardiac Rehab two days a week, working out on the treadmill, bike and elliptical trainer.

“I know if I didn’t continue doing something, then I would fall back into my old routine,” he said. “I didn’t want to do that. I need to focus on what I need to do. I really enjoy the program and I need to continue to condition myself.”

Shepherd encourages others to “speak up and talk to your doctor, if you feel something is not right.”

“In the beginning, when I thought the pain was caused by acid reflux, I didn’t go back to the doctor when I should have,” he said. “I should have been honest and told my doctor about my problems and that the current treatment was not working. It’s like taking your car to the mechanic...he can’t fix the car until he knows the problem. He has to know what is happening in order to correct it and so does your doctor.”

For more information about PMC's Cardiac services, call 606-218-2939.

Different names for added sugar

•Brown sugar

•Corn sweetener

•Corn syrup

•Sugar molecules ending in “ose”







•High-fructose corn syrup

•Fruit juice concentrate


•Invert  sugar

•Malt sugar


•Raw sugar



Source: American Heart Association

PIKEVILLE - Making sure blood sugar levels are okay is one of the American Heart Association’s seven simple factors/behaviors that have the biggest impact on heart health.

Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States and the world. Keeping your blood sugar levels in check could help prevent this dreaded disease.

High blood sugar/blood glucose levels are directly linked to pre-diabetes/diabetes. Over time, high blood sugar levels could lead to damage of the heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.

A normal blood sugar level is less than 100 mg/dl when fasting and is less than 140 mg/dl two hours after eating. A healthy person’s blood sugar level may tend to be much lower.

Some symptoms of diabetes, caused by high blood sugar levels, include:

•Frequent urination

•Unusual thirst

•Extreme hunger

•Unusual weight loss

•Extreme fatigue and irritability

•Frequent infections

•Blurred vision

•Slow healing cuts/bruises

•Tingling/numbness in the hands/feet

•Recurring skin, gum or bladder infections

There are several things one can do in order to lower high blood sugar levels or maintain a normal level, including: reducing the intake of simple sugars found in soda and candy; staying physically active and taking medications/insulin as directed by your physician.

The AHA recommends women have no more than six teaspoons (tsp.) of added sugars a day, and that men should limit their intake to 9 tsp. or less a day.

If you are unsure of your blood sugar levels, make an appointment with your health care provider today.


The American Heart Association



Medical Leader | FILE PHOTO
FASHION SHOW: Current Miss Kentucky Jessica Casebolt is shown above taking part in a previous  Heart Healthy Fashion Show at Pikeville Medical Center. This year’s event will be held on February 21 at Landmark-Mark II in Pikeville.

PIKEVILLE - Pikeville Medical Center’s (PMC) Heart and Vascular Institute invites the public to attend its fourth annual Heart Healthy Fashion Show and Awareness Day event on Thursday, February 21, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Landmark-Mark II in Pikeville.

The event, held in recognition of American Heart Month, will offer entertainment, health screenings and heart health education.

Attendees will hear from world-renowned PMC Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Bill Harris, and Miss Kentucky Jessica Casebolt will serve as master of ceremonies. Local women and children will model the most modern, heart-savvy fashions on the runway. 

“There is a misconception that heart disease only affects the elderly, but heart-related issues impact people of all ages,” said Casebolt. “It is important to put into place heart healthy skill sets at an early age. Being able to involve children in this event and having the opportunity to reach out to them will positively impact their lives and this community for years to come.”

As Miss Kentucky, Casebolt chose heart health awareness as her personal platform.

“My grandmother passing away from heart-related issues just over a year ago really made the importance of heart health hit home for me,” she said.

“You must take your health and your heart seriously; it’s urgent.”

PMC’s Heart and Vascular Institute physicians and staff, cardiac rehab staff and other experienced professionals will be on hand to answer any questions.

“This event is a wonderful opportunity, unlike any other in our community, for people to learn about the risk factors and symptoms of heart disease, and what measures they need to take in order to have a healthy heart,” said Dr. Harris.

Free blood pressure and blood sugar screenings will be available as well as free counseling with PMC dieticians.

Educational materials will be distributed concerning heart disease risk factors, symptoms, prevention and treatment measures.

Free refreshments will be served.

PMC extends a special thank you to event sponsors Signature Events, Unique Boutique, Mickey’s Menagerie, Maurice’s, Prince and Princess and Red Room Boutique.

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States.

To learn more about risk factors and how to prevent heart disease, please join PMC for this important event.

The Mark II is located at 190 South Mayo Trail in Pikeville.

For more information about the Heart Healthy Fashion Show and Awareness Day event, call PMC's Public Relations Department at 606-218-4509.

Medical Leader | JESSICA HOWARD
ROAD TO RECOVERY: Rose Johnson, a cardiac rehab patient at Pikeville Medical Center, praises the  cardiac rehab staff for their support.

PIKEVILLE - “Pikeville Medical Center’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program is amazing,” said Rose Johnson of Pikeville.

In January 2009, Johnson, a secretary in PMC’s Emergency Department, was diagnosed with a “widow maker,” a nickname used to described a clogged coronary artery in the heart. She underwent a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) to improve blood flow to her heart.

Johnson says she was fortunate to begin treatment at PMC’s cardiac rehab facility.

“Going through PMC’s cardiac rehab program really helped me through the recovery process,” she said. “After surgery, you are a little afraid to exercise or get out and do the things you used to do by yourself. You don’t know what your limits are and if you are overdoing it.”

The qualified staff closely monitors each of their patients to ensure they are okay.

“They make you feel so comfortable and safe,” she said. “If anything shows up on the monitors while you are exercising, they know it and are able to take care of you.”

Rehab also helped Johnson cope with depression.

“I think the reason I didn’t get as depressed as some people do is because I actively participated in the program,”  Johnson said. “Attending cardiac rehab made me feel like I was okay, that I could get back into the swing of things and live a normal life. I would definitely recommend PMC’s cardiac rehab to anyone. It made me feel wonderful.”

Prior to seeking medical attention, Johnson suffered abnormal symptoms for many months.

She assumed they were caused by getting too hot or sudden changes in blood sugar levels.

“Don’t ever ignore any type of symptom; it may be nothing but you don’t know until you check it out,” she warned.

“If something is happening to your body that is not normal, have it checked and find out what it is. It just might save your life.”

Johnson’s symptoms included episodes of nausea, feeling faint to the point of passing out, cold sweats, heart pounding and blacking out. When she felt this way, she would lie down for 10-15 minutes.

“I just overlooked these symptoms for several months and never said anything to anyone,” she said.

“I didn’t associate these symptoms with a heart problem. I had no idea.”

Now that she is better, Johnson says she has a lot to live for.

“God gave me a second chance and it’s up to me what I do with it,” she said.

“I’m definitely going to take care of myself, because He has me here for a reason and isn’t done with me yet.”

Now, four years later, Johnson receives follow-up care from Pikeville Medical Center Heart and Vascular Institute’s Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Muhammad Ahmad.

“I thank God for the physicians and everyone here at PMC,” she said.

“For many years, patients had to leave this area to receive treatment, and now we have it all right here...we are very blessed to have this hospital and everything we need to take care of us. Pikeville Medical Center has grown so much and offers the best in medical technology.  There is no reason to go anywhere else.”

For more information, call Cardiac Rehab at 606-218-4925.

Medical Leader | SUBMITTED PHOTO

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third story in a series about heart health.)

PIKEVILLE - Nearly one in three adults over the age of 20 who live in the United States (76.4 million Americans) has high blood pressure (HBP), also known as hypertension.

Like high cholesterol, high blood pressure is sometimes called a “silent killer”, since it is usually not accompanied by any signs or symptoms. 

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), “blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls.”

Recorded as two different numbers, blood pressure is written in the following format: 112/75. The top or first number is called the systolic blood pressure and is the pressure when the heart beats. The bottom number is referred to as diastolic blood pressure and is the pressure when the heart is at rest. 

If left untreated, high blood pressure may lead to a stroke, heart attack, angina, heart failure, kidney failure or peripheral artery disease (PAD).

Since there are no symptoms, the only way to confirm blood pressure levels is to have it regularly monitored by a physician.

There are several factors that can lead to high blood pressure, or cause someone’s risk to be greater. Some of these factors include: genetics, age, body weight, physical activity, salt and alcohol consumption, a diagnosis of diabetes, gout or kidney disease and pregnancy.

While some of these factors are uncontrollable, there are many things you can do to prevent high blood pressure, such as:

•Maintain a healthy weight

•Eat healthy meals low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt and added sugar

•Limit alcohol intake (no more than 1 drink/day for women  or 2 drinks/day for men)

•Be physically active (150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minute of high intensity/week)

•Take any medicines as instructed by your physician

Sources: American Heart Association

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention