Get to Know Your Cardiologist: Dr. Anthony Fletcher
As a member of the state’s largest and most diverse network of heart specialists with the CHI St. Vincent Heart Institute, interventional cardiologist Dr. Anthony Fletcher has been serving patients across the central Arkansas community for more than three decades. Dr. Fletcher is part of the team of specialists at the CHI St. Vincent Cardiology and Medicine Clinic in Little Rock, which diagnoses and treats a wide range of diseases and conditions of the heart and vascular systems. Dr. Fletcher shares what sparked his interest in cardiology and what it means to him to improve the lives of his patients.
What drew you to medicine and led you to pursue a career as a doctor?
“Being involved in the community through my churches and with my family, I had a great desire to do things that would impact people’s lives and the quality of how they moved forward in their lives. I really began to appreciate and enjoy the sciences in high school and I saw medicine as the best way to put that all together. It was an opportunity to be involved with the benefits of sciences and use that to help people.”
As you began your journey into medicine, what attracted you to cardiology over other specialties?
“When I did my medical training, I was exposed to all aspects of medicine. Cardiology came to the forefront because it’s a progressive and active science. You can use your intellectual abilities to think through processes and then on the surgical side, you get to use your hands and answer things physically. Cardiology is also a very progressive field, leading the way with new devices and technology to help patients see results.”
The relationship between doctor and patient is one of the most important aspects of preventing and treating heart disease. What does it mean to you to develop long-lasting relationships with your patients?
“To have the opportunity to impact someone’s life is tremendous. You get a chance to not only know your patient, but also their family and their friends. It can also be an opportunity to influence the outcome of someone who is in an extreme condition, such as someone who presents with a heart attack. They come in the door in the midst of a life-threatening challenge and with the appropriate treatment and timing, we can modify that and give them a better quality of life moving forward.”
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. How does it feel to work with patients that have potentially life-threatening conditions?
“It’s a great responsibility and as a result of that, I walk into my daily activities realizing that I can make a difference. Many times people just don’t understand the nature of a problem that they might have. By helping them understand the problem, we can improve their ability to be compliant with treatment and lifestyle changes to prevent future cardiovascular problems. I think that’s a tremendous gift that we get as physicians, not just cardiologists. We get to make a difference and in many cases, we have the opportunity to save a life.”
Having worked with patients for more than 30 years, what has been your greatest joy as a cardiologist?
“The greatest sense of enumeration in medicine is the love and respect that you get from your patients. When patients tell you that you made a difference or saved their life, it’s extremely rewarding. When you look in someone’s face and see the joy and satisfaction that you helped them get through something life-threatening or life-altering, it gives you a sense of accomplishment that is very special. I don’t think you can find that feeling anywhere else.”
To learn more about Dr. Fletcher and meet other heart surgeons and cardiologists with the CHI St. Vincent Heart Institute, visit: chistvincent.com/heart