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Quintuple bypass cardiac patient sets record-breaking pace

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Chris Smith swimming
Chris Smith swims eight hours a day, four days a week. (Photo: Courtesy Toronto Star)

heart month logoChris Smith is a fish out of water.

At 85, the Toronto resident and native of Bermuda is doing things in the swimming pool that defy his age and his health history.

If it isn't enough that he has been swimming for 80-plus years, competing for more than 70, officiating for a half century and still maintaining a weekly schedule of eight hours in the pool – four times a week, two-hour sessions – then consider this:  a severe heart condition almost forced Smith out of the water forever.

An angiogram at St. Michael's Hospital revealed multiple severely blocked arteries. His pre-existing asthma and celiac conditions also complicated matters.

Then came quintuple bypass surgery at Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at UHN in 2014. It changed everything.

The Toronto Star profiled Smith in a recent article​ to mark Heart Month.

"My heart surgeon told me,'you're recovering much faster than people 20 to 30 years younger than you.'" - Chris Smith, patient at Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, and Ontario record-holder for his age group in 200-yard fly, 400-yard Individual medley, 50-yardand 100-yard freestyle​

​​ "Swimming is an excellent form of aerobic exercise which is encouraged six to eight weeks after [heart] surgery." - Dr. Vivek Rao, Division Head, Cardiovascular Surgery, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre


Operating Room scene
A multi-disciplinary surgical team at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, like the one pictured, performed a quintuple bypass on Chris Smith on Nov. 29, 2014. Smith's fitness, which was gained largely through swimming, is said to have played a significant role in his rapid recovery.(Photo: UHN/PMCC)

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