Mount Everest dreams dashed, triple bypass patient from Connecticut treks Appalachian Trail

STAMFORD, Connecticut (WABC) -- For 10 years, Arun Sinha was obsessed with his personal goal of climbing Mount Everest.

"I ate, drank, slept, talked about it, read about it," he said.

Sinha, of Stamford, was 56 and ready to go in 2018, only needing a doctor to sign off. And he thought he was healthy, because every day, he walked miles and climbed nearly 50 flights of stairs.

But after a trip to the doctor and several tests, he learned he wasn't nearly a healthy as he thought -- and in fact, he needed a triple bypass.

It was not what Sinha wanted to hear.

"I literally consulted with 15 doctors, 15 doctors in three continents," he said. "Not only, one, hoping that these doctors are trained differently and they will look at my case in different ways."

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He eventually ended up at Mount Sinai Morningside.

"No sensible physician would recommend that level of physical exertion at a low oxygen, high altitude environment, with those kid of blockages," cardiovascular surgeon Dr. John Puskas said.

Sinha's condition put his dreams -- and his life -- at risk.

"He had three of the main coronary arteries blocked," cardiologist Dr. Valentin Fuster said.

Sinha had the surgery on the day he was set to climb Mount Everest, and he said the aftermath was the most physically and mentally challenging time in his life.

"The recovery was the hardest part," he said. "The five days of recovery."

For several days, he couldn't even take 100 steps. But he was committed, and just weeks ago, he trekked the 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail.

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Sinha's story is a warning to everyone, especially right now, about the importance of those regular visits to the doctor.

For many, they've put off routine checkups during the pandemic. But doctors a Mount Sinai Morningside warn that even those who seem healthy need preventative care.

"There are other causes of death that are more common, more lethal, more frequent than COVID," Dr. Puskas said. "Those include heart disease and cancer...Avoiding care for non-COVID healthcare issues is a big mistake."

And for Sinha, he's just happy to be alive.

"It saved my life," he said. "Just by going through the process."

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