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Published on December 15, 2020

Heart Attack Survivor

Heart Attack Survivor on a Bicycle

Craig Alexander spent his career working in the financial industry. He began on Wall Street in the 1980s and, most recently, served as Chief Financial Officer for a large financial services firm. He always had “big stress jobs,” as he calls them, and he was “all work, work, work.”

In Craig's Own Words

“I can’t stress enough about how important the Cottage family was to me. They genuinely cared about me, and it was so much more than a job to them. I will always be indebted to Cottage for restoring my health.” 

Having a heart attack was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It was a wakeup call.

- Craig Alexander,
Santa Barbara

Then in May of 2019, Craig woke up with a pain in his chest. That was his only symptom besides shortness of breath while on a walk a couple of days earlier. When the chest pain wouldn’t go away, he knew something was wrong, and his wife drove him to the ER at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

Craig was having a heart attack due to severe blockages in two arteries, one totally blocked and the other 90 percent blocked. He needed a surgery known as a double coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), which was performed by Dr. Peter Baay, a cardiothoracic surgeon at the Cottage Heart and Vascular Center. Craig’s CABG was an open-heart procedure that redirected blood around the blocked arteries, so the blood flow to the heart improves. In Craig’s case, Dr. Baay took a healthy artery from the arm and from inside the chest to use for the bypass.

Soon after surgery, Craig began cardiac rehabilitation at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, and he quickly noticed changes for the better.

“I wasn’t motivated at first and felt like rehab was just something I was supposed to do,” Craig said. “Then something changed after about a month. I started feeling better and better as I lost weight and became more fit, and I began to look forward to my therapy. Over time, I could feel and see results. I was getting healthier.”

“Craig was a model patient, and he was a delight around the time of the operation, and has been extremely motivated after the surgery to change his lifestyle,” said Dr. Baay. “This motivation and his incredibly positive attitude lead to his excellent recovery.”

Craig has now lost more than 100 pounds, and his fitness regimen keeps him feeling great.
“I can’t stress enough about how important the Cottage family was to me,” Craig said. “They genuinely cared about me, and it was so much more than a job to them. I will always be indebted to Cottage for restoring my health.”

These days, Craig enjoys life with his family and says, “I am so thankful for my wife and her love, support and patience.” He is taking good care of himself with a proper diet and daily exercise that involves cardio, swimming and cycling. His favorite bike ride is from Santa Barbara to Ventura, where he has the ocean on one side and mountains on the other. “That’s when I realize how lucky I am to be here,” Craig said.

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is an AACVPR certified facility. This certification from the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation recognizes SBCH as a leader in the field of cardiovascular rehabilitation with the most advanced practices available.

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Media and Public Relations Contact

Maria Zate, Manager of Public Relations

Phone: 805-879-8986

Email: mzate@sbch.org