Attorney's surprising heart disease diagnosis leads to fundraiser participation

September 16, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT |
  • Phil Cosentino had six heart catheterizations, seven stents and open-heart bypass surgery within a two-year period. Because of his experiences, Cosentino is spokesperson for the American Heart Association's Mason-Dixon Heart and Stroke Walk which takes place, Sunday, Sept. 25, at Greencastle-Antrim Elementary School.
Submitted photos

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Phil Cosentino never has been one to sit back and watch life go by.

Instead, he lives it to the fullest.

He's a runner who participates in everything from trail races to half marathons.

He loves to ski and has logged more than 30 scuba dives.

And, although he's an attorney by profession, he's a bit of a landscaper — the dirtier the project the better.

To most people, including Cosentino, he seemed the picture of good health.

"I have always been very active. I have good weight control and my heart numbers — cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides — weren't bad," he said.

He does take blood pressure medication, "a genetic gift" from his mother.

But heart disease just wasn't on his radar.

That's why it came as a surprise when he received his diagnosis.

Over a two-year period, there would be six heart cathetenizations, seven stents and open-heart bypass surgery.

But thanks to advances in the detection and treatment of heart disease, he is here today, he said, "even more appreciative of everyone and everything."

Cosentino will be representing all heart and stroke survivors as the Red Cap spokesperson for the American Heart Association's Mason-Dixon Heart and Stroke Walk, scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 25.

The event, which takes place at Greencastle-Antrim Elementary School, will begin with registration at 12:30 p.m., opening ceremonies at 1:15 p.m. and a 4-mile walk beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Other highlights will include blood pressure screenings, sponsor displays and medical professionals who will be on hand to answer participants' questions about heart health, diet and physical activity.

Proceeds will help fund research, as well a educational programs and public advocacy.

Cosentino said he was hesitant at first to be the spokesperson for this year's heart walk.

"No one wants to talk about a trying time in their life," he said. "You just want to breathe in, breathe out, move on. But if talking about my experiences can make a difference in the lives of others, I'm there."

Cosentino said his symptoms began to appear during a routine 10-mile run that he and a group of friends enjoyed every Sunday morning. 

"I began having trouble doing the full 10 miles, then 8 miles, then 6. I was getting tightness in the upper chest — kind of like the feeling you get in the winter when you breathe in cold air," he said.

One of men in the group is a cardiologist and encouraged Cosentino to come to his office for a stress test.

"Turns out I had a 100-percent blockage of the circumflex artery," he said. "I was told I did not have a heart attack because my running allowed my heart to develop alternate blood flow around the blockage. It was enough to hold off a heart attack but was much less than a normal blood flow."

In June of 2008, Cosentino went to the Cleveland Clinic, where he received his first three stents. Six months later, he was at Harrisburg Hospital for two more stents — this time for a 90-percent blockage of the left anterior descending artery. In another six months, he was back at the same hospital for two more stents. In June of 2010, he underwent heart bypass surgery.

An attorney with DiLoreto Cosentino & Bolinger, he is back to working a full-time schedule — "trying cases and, most importantly, spending as much time as possible with family and friends," he said. "For the one-year anniversary of the bypass, my wife, Kathy, and I went skiing at Deer Valley, Utah, and had a great trip.  We'll be going back this winter."

Cosentino said he has three children: Anthony, 30, an attorney who is his law partner; James, 29, a third-year resident at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia; and Melanie, 26, a senior account executive at a public relations firm in New York City.

In October of 2010, Cosentino danced at one of his son's weddings and, this month, walked his daughter down the aisle at her wedding.

"One of the ladies working with the Heart Association told me 'Now that's a heart walk.'"

As spokesperson for the upcoming walk, Cosentino said he hopes to share an important message with the public: "Listen to your body. Do not ignore symptoms. Do not think you're immune from heart disease. You owe it to yourself and to your loved ones."

Cosentino said he has learned firsthand how heart disease can change your perspective on life.

"Now, every morning before my feet hit the floor, my prayer is 'Another day, another blessing,'" he said.

If you go ...

WHAT: American Heart Association's Mason-Dixon Heart and Stroke Walk

WHEN: Sunday, Sept. 25; registration at 12:30 p.m., opening ceremonies at 1:15 p.m., walk begins at 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: Greencastle-Antrim Elementary School, 500 E. Leitersburg St., Greencastle, Pa.

CONTACT: Call 717-263-2870, ext. 4261, or email

MORE: Participants can register at

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