A Restless Heart Among The Stars

A doctor standing in an OR wearing scrubs smiling

Ted Wolsko, 81, spent his childhood daydreaming about anything and everything to do with airplanes and the stars they chased—and every spare minute gazing.  

 “How lucky was I that my very first job was at the Westinghouse Astronuclear Laboratory working on Project NERVA and the man-to-Mars mission,” Ted says. He raised three children with his wife of six decades, Connie, as his career spanned from the space program to programming and even human resources consulting.  

 Though he officially retired in 2001, he remained active in the community with part-time roles at the Peters Township Recreation Center and Clayton Engineering in Bridgeville. And as the years passed, Ted could feel himself really slowing down.  

 “I just chalked it up to getting older, and, like a lot of men my age, I ignored some things I was experiencing when it came to my health,” he says. “It got to the point where I had to sit down for 10 minutes after walking to the mailbox. Connie could see it, and she knew I had to do something about it.”  

Ted’s disease, aortic stenosis, is a progressive ailment, and severe cases can lead to death without treatment. Andy C. Kiser, MD, Physician-in-Chief of Cardiovascular Services at St. Clair Health, had a clear message for Ted—one that extends to anyone who might be experiencing symptoms associated with heart disease.  

“Don’t ignore the signs. If you’re feeling specific shortness of breath or discomfort, or you just don’t have the same energy anymore, the time to act is now,” he says.  

After an echocardiogram confirmed the need for additional testing, Dr. Kiser and the multidisciplinary valve clinic team at St. Clair Health evaluated Ted further.  

“One of the great things about St. Clair Health is that everything you need is right under one roof—your cardiothoracic surgeons, interventional cardiologists, anesthesiologists, and radiologists are all working together in the same place,” Dr. Kiser says. “And we have a clinical liaison that helps you navigate every step.” 

In short order, the team recommended a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) for Ted—which entails using a catheter to replace the diseased heart valve with a new, man-made valve through a very small incision in the leg.  

According to Dr. Kiser, “The benefits are tremendous. You want to be home, back to the things you love to do with the people you love to do them with as soon as possible, and that’s what the TAVR is designed to deliver.”  

According to Ted, “It was amazing—and immediate. I felt normal again and almost couldn’t believe it—I could breathe again. And I went home the very next day!” 

 Ted was so enthused after his TAVR that he asked Dr. Kiser what he could possibly do to thank him and the team for their efforts. He actually offered to cut his grass—that’s how good Ted felt. 

 “There are so many extremely dedicated and caring people at St. Clair who do an unbelievable job,” he says. “And I’m extremely grateful of everything they’ve done for me and my family.” 

St. Clair Health offers world-class medical advancements that can make a world of difference—with minimal interruption to your life. To learn more about TAVR at St. Clair Health, visit stclair.org/tavr.