Former postmaster receives 5 heart bypasses with only warning signs of shortness of breath and fatigue

Baptist Health Paducah. February 19, 2024

PADUCAH, KY (February 19, 2024) - One month after Mike Edwards, 58, of Marion, Illinois, retired after 32 years as postmaster, he noticed changes in his energy and breathing levels, as he attempted to complete household projects. 

“I just blamed it on getting older, gaining some weight and my stressful job,” said Edwards. He never suspected it was his heart and chalked it up to getting older. 

However, the fatigue and breathlessness that he endured for almost eight months, finally demanded answers.

Before Christmas, Edwards made an appointment with his physician in Marion, Illinois, and underwent a routine stress test. Less than a minute into the test, his heart stopped for 15 seconds, and a code blue was called overhead at the hospital. “I guess you could say I flunked it,” said Edwards. “I didn’t have the typical stabbing chest pains and the numbness that are associated with heart attacks.”

When Edwards regained consciousness, he realized he must have blacked out but did not grasp the severity of the situation. Edwards was admitted to the hospital and was quickly determined he needed to be transferred to a hospital that could provide a higher level of care. Without hesitation, Edwards and his wife, Traci, quickly responded to the medical team and said, “Get me to Baptist Health in Paducah.” 

“I had never been a patient at Baptist Health before, but Traci and I knew if anything ever happened and we needed cardiac care, Baptist is where we wanted to go,” said Edwards.

On December 27, Edwards was transferred by ambulance to Baptist Health Paducah where structural interventional cardiologist, Martin Rains, MD, performed a heart catheterization that revealed four, possibly five blockages, in Edwards’ arteries. 

Given the severity of the arteries affected, cardiothoracic surgeon, Austin Ward, MD, was called to assess Edwards heart cath results. 
Based on the results, Dr. Ward shared with Edwards that his symptoms were concerning for risk of a heart attack and recommended coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG), or open-heart surgery, to resolve Edwards’ symptoms. “We were able to see that the likely cause was multiple severe blockages in the arteries that give the heart its blood and oxygen; the best treatment is with bypass surgery,” said Dr. Ward. 

On December 29, Dr. Ward performed five bypasses on his heart.  

Several days following his surgery, Edwards recalls being a bit scared but says he was comforted knowing he was being cared for by a highly skilled team in the Cardiac Care unit. “Everyone from Dr. Rains to Dr. Ward, the nurses, the staff, everybody there…I felt like I was with family,” said Edwards. “Those first couple of nights after the surgery, they would literally stand there and hold my hand and tell me it was okay and that I was doing great. That meant more than I could ever say. I had never been through anything like this, and I didn’t know what to expect. There was one night where I was just sure that I wasn’t going to make it, and I know that night a young man, Peyton an RN, literally spent the night at my side and helped me through the night keeping me updated about my vitals and explaining them.”

Edwards was released from the hospital four days after his open-heart surgery.  

“I just don’t know how to describe it; how great everybody was. I can’t say enough good about the hospital, the staff, the doctors, everybody,” said Edwards “Dr. Ward came in on New Years Day and he came in at least twice on his day off. Everybody there just told me my wellbeing and recovery was all that they were concerned with.”

Dr. Ward gives credit to the advanced technology, resources and staff for Mike’s successful bypass surgery and recovery. “Our team at Baptist is very skilled in caring for patients such as Mr. Edwards and this is a big reason he did as well as he did,” said Dr. Ward.

Edwards commends his care team and is grateful for the superior services the hospital provides. “I recommend Baptist to anybody who might ever need anything heart related, cardiac intervention, bypass, anything,” said Edwards. “I can’t say enough good about the hospital and its people. You don’t have to go to Nashville or St. Louis anymore to have this done. You can stay right here.”

Edwards is looking forward to his continued recovery and plans to begin cardiac rehabilitation soon. 

Dr. Ward and fellow cardiothoracic surgeon Nicholas Lopez, MD, performed more than 275 open-heart surgeries in 2023. 

Baptist Health Paducah is one of only a few hospitals in the state to receive an STS 3-Star CABG program, offering the highest level of quality care to patients. 

In addition to bypass surgery, the hospital’s cardiothoracic surgeons offer an extensive aortic surgery program including aortic root surgeries, valve-sparring root surgeries, aortic arch surgeries, Endovascular surgeries for thoracic, thoracoabdominal and abdominal aneurysms and dissections.

“Our outcomes with these procedures rival some of the best centers in the country,” said Ward.

For more information about Baptist Health Paducah’s cardiovascular services, visit