We at The Paulette Tashnek-Wagner Cardiovascular Institute of Greater Los Angeles love to read reviews from patients posted on the internet to various site such as Yelp, HealthGrades, and RateMDs. We take pride in the fact that many of our patients take time out of their busy schedule to write something about us. The responses from you are so important because it lets us know what we are doing right and how we can further improve. Please help us by continuing to review our services and we would also like to extend our deepest thanks to those of you that have already participated.
July 4, 2017
My sister is a physician who worked with Dr. Ben-Zur, back when she was a medical student. Our family is well acquainted with Dr. Ben-Zur and his office staff. We have the highest regard for everyone there. I always thought that I was taking care of my health; being that I have been eating properly and exercising daily. On June 26th, 2017 I had a stress test at Dr. Ben-Zur’s office. This was the first stress test I’d ever undergone. I questioned whether I really needed it, but for the two weeks prior I was having chest pain. A lot of the features of the chest pain I was having were not typical for heart disease. During the stress test, however, I developed severe problems – my artery closed off. Within seconds, Dr. Ben-Zur and the entire team at the Cardiovascular Institute were activated. Within minutes I was at the hospital and less than 20 minutes later my arteries were open. It turned out that two of my main arteries were severely diseased. I truly believe that Dr. Ben-Zur and his staff saved my life that day. They not only saved my life, but they did so in the most rapid fashion. I was top priority and they stopped everything and focused only on helping me. It seemed like everybody knew who to call and how to get things done. It was as if a tornado was set off, but one which was carefully orchestrated and precisely choreographed. The doctors and nurses at the hospital were already waiting for me upon my arrival. How Dr. Ben-Zur arrived at the hospital before the ambulance is still beyond me. The Cardiovascular Institute is a great place for medical care. Many years ago I lost my father to heart disease. He was approximately the same age I am today. I will, hopefully, get to see my children grow and develop – something my father was not as fortunate to have.
Happy July 4th,
The year was 1942. My father’s father, Meir Nuri, the man who I am named after, underwent a “minor procedure” in Iraq. Complications ensued immediately after the procedure and, as a result, my grandfather lost his life the very next day. My father was now in charge of raising his ten young siblings. His mother was very loving but her husband had been the one in charge of the finances. My father wept without end. At age 16 his best friend, the center of his universe, was gone. He walked out of the hospital and knelt on the sand. Drawing a puzzle made up of 12 pieces, similar to the 12 tribes of Israel, he then removed the center piece of the puzzle. The piece that represented his father. Sitting up all night, terrified and sobbing, he tried to figure out how to rebuild that puzzle on his own. In the morning he got up and decided to change his life. He left school and started to work, at times, 20 hours per day, to support his brothers, sisters, and mother. He promised himself that he would make sure that each of his siblings would receive an education and get married before he would consider his job complete.
Twenty years ago today, the doors to the Cardiovascular Institute opened. As my father stood proudly on that day, in that first small office, he recounted the events of the night after his father had passed. Our mission, like his, would be to keep all of the families of our patients together. To keep the puzzle of each family that puts its trust in us together. That is our mission.
As I stand here today, I cannot be more proud of what we have accomplished. After years of work from morning to night, and on occasion 24 hours a day, we have assembled a team of people of whom I am extremely proud. “The best people in the world,” my father always says. From my father, who built and currently manages the office, to my colleague, Ramiro, to Bhagat, Martha, Tatyana, Vladimir, Leslie, Mariana, Marissa, Sylvia, Aida, Liora, Elizabeth, Lana, Ofir, Jessie, and all of our wonderful students.
In those twenty years, we have often received many thoughtful and heartwarming gifts from our patients. All of them carry great meaning. But, every morning I arrive 30 minutes before everyone else to look at one particular gift. Another puzzle.
Several years ago a beautiful family came to us. The family consisted of a loving mother, who relied on her husband, a father, and a severely autistic young woman. The father had been having a very difficult time with his health and they had driven a great distance to see us. He was the sole provider for his family and had been sick for several months. After repeatedly passing out, he had been seen by multiple doctors and hospitalized on multiple occasions without any formal diagnosis. After careful evaluation, we discovered the problem and were able to correct it with a surgical procedure. His daughter, the autistic child, understood exactly what had happened, and its significance to her and to her family.
As her mother later recounted to me, as soon as her dad came home she grabbed her mother’s hand and dragged her to a store. Once inside she stopped in front of a particularly complex puzzle. Pointing to it, she said with enthusiasm, “Dr. Ben-Zur!” They returned home with the puzzle and she immediately put it together with incredible speed. The same puzzle would’ve taken me many months to assemble. When she brought it to the office she gave me a big hug. The normally very shy girl, who her parents said, rarely demonstrated any affection, showed me the meaning of warmth. Her mother explained that her daughter meant for the puzzle to represent all the pieces of her family, with the face being her father. Now, my puzzle is back in one piece. Tears of joy filled my eyes and my throat constricted. It took me immediately back to the night my dad was putting his pieces together.
And so, for all those who ask me, “Why do you get up so early?” and “Why do you put so much effort into what you do?” and “Why don’t you ever go on vacation?” I stand back, and point to that puzzle, and say, “Today I’m assembling a puzzle!”
Uri Meir Nuriel Ben-Zur, M.D., F.A.C.C.
And the loving members of the Cardiovascular Institute
With All of My Love, Pauline Bustamante
From the Bustamante Family:
I have never met a doctor so dedicated to helping, caring, saving, guiding, and supporting his patients the way Dr. Uri Ben-Zur does.
I had a condition no other doctor knew how to treat. The doctors (cardiologists, neurologists, etc.) told me my heart was fine and that they couldn’t find anything abnormal.
My daughter, Annie, received a referral for Dr. Ben-Zur. She called his office and immediately made an appointment.
When I arrived at his office, I waited no more than 2 minutes before the doctor greeted me and my family. He took me into a room where his friendly staff ran tests and asked me questions.
Going to an appointment with Dr. Ben-Zur is completely different than going to any other doctor appointment. The tranquil atmosphere and harmony that one feels is incredibly relaxing. I sometimes spend hours at his office (with all the testing that needs to be done) but time passes quickly and it’s always a pleasure since it’s such a calm environment.
For me, it was a blessing from G-d to have found Dr. Uri Ben-Zur. Not only did he save my life, but I had the opportunity to meet such an extraordinary and charitable man. My family and I are profoundly grateful for all of his help and for the compassion he shows for my special needs daughter, Pauline.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you doctor.
May G-d bless you.
Jose Bustamante & Family
Thank you for saving our Papi, The Bustamante Family
Save A Life, Share This Story!
Several weeks ago my grandfather fell unconscious behind the wheel while he was driving with my grandmother. They ended up colliding with several nearby vehicles and finally hitting a tree. My grandfather is so very dear to all of us and we love him with all our hearts. He is the shining star and the guiding light amongst our family. He was immediately taken to the hospital after the accident. My mother the next day noticed that his heart was stopping on the monitor, it turns out his heart was thumping for 20 seconds at a time. A pacemaker was immediately put in once the problem was addressed. My grandfather was then discharged after no known complications seemed to take place. At home later on he was not feeling well. My grandmother alerted me that she felt that there was something wrong and he should be taken in. He was complaining of mild chest pains and irregular heartbeats. My mother was home with a new baby so I was left in charge, so to speak. My aunt recommended us to Dr. Ben-Zur who herself couldn’t rave enough about him, so we were confident we were in good hands. When we arrived we were all struck by the incredible atmosphere in the office, but most of all we were struck by the Dr.’s welcoming staff. Literally, the Dr. himself greeted my grandfather upon entering his office and showed him to his room! Dr. Ben-Zur diagnosed the problem of the sudden chest pains my grandfather was dealing with. One of the wires of the pacemaker was going deep into the heart muscle which could’ve caused him great injury if not attended to immediately. Dr. Ben-Zur operated on him and now my grandfather is well again.
People now ask me what I want to do when I grow up and I say I want to be the next Dr. Ben-Zur! I will do everything in my power and will, to become an excellent surgeon that will leave a legacy and ‘footprint’ in this world. Dr. Benzur said he would gladly take me under his wing and I cannot express how excited I am. I bought my scrubs yesterday and I am ready to start!
See you at Dr. Ben-Zur’s office
This is our story about when my husband had his heart attack. My husband developed chest pain. We went to the local emergency room, where a doctor told me my husband was having a major heart attack. A cardiologist had been called.
Fear and panic overwhelmed me. My husband was 47 years old at the time. We have three children. Thoughts began taking root in my head: What will happen to him, my life-long friend? What will be with our children?
Amazingly within minutes, a tall gentleman arrived. He said, “Hi my name is Dr. Ben-Zur, and I’ll be taking care of your husband.” He was obviously hurried and intensely focused on the problem, but his gentle eyes were calming. Within seconds I felt at ease. It was if an older brother had come to save us while we were drowning.
Almost immediately Dr. Ben-Zur rushed my husband to the operating room. This was at about 1:30 AM. At about 4:30 AM Dr. Ben-Zur emerged and came out to the waiting area. He had a glowing look, a big smile, and two thumbs up. His clothing was wet from perspiration. It was obvious that he had worked very hard. My husband was fine and he Would be going home in a few days, he said.
My husband was then seen in. Dr. Ben-Zur’s office over the next
several months. Dr. Ben-Zur and his amazing staff completely changed our lifestyle. My husband is now eating healthy food and is in the best shape he has been in a very long time.
After meeting with many of Dr. Ben-Zur’s patients, I realized that
our story was not unique. Hundreds of them have similar stones.
Dr. Ben-Zur has been a tremendous addition to our lives. My youngest son said it best: “Our doctor is special.”
Even though I’m busy with my husband and raising three children, I take two cups of green juice to Dr. Ben-Zur every morning. (I worry that he does not always eat on time.)
My name is Azita and I look forward to meeting you at Dr. Ben-Zur’s office some day.
MY DEATH CHANGED ME. I HOPE IT WILL CHANGE YOU.
Close your eyes for a moment. Imagine your wife or husband is told by your doctor that you had a significant heart attack. He explains that you may not survive the night and your wife or husband should bring your teenaged children to the hospital to say, “Good bye”. And if you do survive your family, the people you love the most in the world can be consoled by the fact that you will most likely be a vegetable and unable to take care of yourself. Now how do you feel? It could happen to you, G-d forbid. It happened to me. Please read my story below so you won’t have to live with the same guilt I now live with for the rest of my life.
My name is Leibel Winegard and I usually don’t like to write about myself nor do I typically engage in social media. However, I believe it is vital for me to spread my story because it may help someone out there. I have told my story several times and several cardiologists have suggested that I need to make sure that as many people as possible understand that what happened to me, can easily happen to you. I write this story with tears. This account originates from multiple sources because candidly, I lost six days of my life that I cannot account for today. I simply don’t have any recall of even leaving my home, much less all that happened to me and my family once my heart attack started. I’ve done the best to be as accurate and as detailed as possible.
Los Angeles Marathon- Sunday- 2017. In the morning, I attended the open house of a new building my client built where our firm was the Construction Manager. I remember the celebration and the joy as this was a relatively large building built just a few miles from my home. When I got home, I was hot and felt exhausted. Sitting on the couch in the living room, I didn’t even have the energy to change out of my suit and tie and I asked my son to go get me a change of clothes. My last memory for the next six days was sitting on the couch feeling hot and out of breath.
After I woke up in the hospital, I was told that my sons who are trained in first aid, CPR, and are almost Eagle Scouts knew I was in trouble and needed urgent medical assistance. They said I got sick to my stomach and I told them that I would not let them call 911. Instead, they told me that I thought I was having an asthma attack and I suggested that they get our neighbor, who is a trained first responder to drive me to Dr. Ben Zur because he was open on Sundays. I DON’T REMEMBER LEAVING MY HOME AND GETTING IN THE CAR. As we were driving and speaking with Ramiro navigating to Dr. Ben Zur’s office, I am told I developed severe chest pain and then slumped over. My son knew he needed to keep my airway open and grabbed my head from behind so I could breathe. My neighbor told Ramiro that I was nearby Sherman Oaks Hospital in Sherman Oaks, CA. and that he was taking me there because he didn’t think I would survive the drive through heavy traffic to Dr. Ben Zur’s office. By the time I was at the hospital parking lot I had gone into cardiac arrest, my heart stopped and I understand I took my last breath of oxygen for probably at least 5 minutes. Worse, I was told by an LA County Deputy Sherriff that it is very important if you have an emergency because it significantly delays the Emergency Room’s response to starting the necessary treatment.
Because my treatment was somewhat delayed, the ER (emergency room) staff had to perform CPR on me for between 30 and 40 minutes. Thank G-d, after the third and final electric shock, I was revived from death.
My wife immediately notified Dr. Ben Zur’s office which was about 6 miles away in Tarzana, CA. Because it was a Sunday and probably because it was the marathon day, all the streets and the freeways were virtual parking lots. Cars were standing still in all directions. This was especially the case for Ventura Boulevard and the Ventura Freeway which are the only ways to rapidly get from Tarzana to Sherman Oaks. Suddenly, Dr. Ben-Zur appeared in the Sherman Oaks emergency room and took control of the situation. My wife was astonished because she knew that they had just spoken with Dr. Ben-Zur by phone and he was in his Tarzana office. One of the nurses looked at Dr. Ben-Zur and said “you must have superpowers” I just spoke with you and you were in Tarzana. But, I know how he did it, his genuine care and love for his patients provides him with unique abilities. That is the secret superpower that God has bestowed upon Dr. Ben-Zur.
When Dr. Ben-Zur arrived I was in cardiac shock with a very poor blood pressure and I was on a respiratory machine. The staff of the hospital informed my family that my chances of survival were dismal. Apparently, Sherman Oaks Hospital does not have the ability to operate on my condition. Thank G-d, Dr. Ben-Zur ordered an ambulance to Sherman Oaks Hospital while he was driving. The ambulance immediately came to where I was located and transported me to Tarzana Hospital. Dr. Ben-Zur also asked the great one, Ramiro, (SM) to call ahead of time to Tarzana Hospital. The entire Tarzana Hospital ER and operating room staff were all there waiting for the ambulance to arrive. One of the ER doctors commented that for the past 20 years Dr. Ben-Zur has always arrived before the ambulances. “Every second counts,” said Dr. Ben-Zur, the difference between life and death may be a matter of only a few minutes. One of the ambulance crew members said to Dr. Ben-Zur “I know you left after us, I saw you! How is it possible that you got here before us?” Apparently, caring gives you higher powers than the wailing sirens of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Now every time I hear sirens I think of Dr. Ben-Zur and where he might be. Perhaps he’s flying overhead?
I subsequently made a full recovery and I am back with my family, my wife and three children. My daughter Shira does not allow people to refer to Dr. Ben-Zur as Dr. Ben-Zur. She insists that we all call him Abba’s Dr. Ben-Zur and all of us occasionally call him Rabbi Ben Zur as a measure of added respect. Whenever she sees Dr. Ben-Zur she runs over to give him a deep hug. She too has become a vegetarian (at 14 years old) and my 15 and 17-year-old sons now are more conscious of our family history and try to exercise more and more.
When I come to the office I’m greeted by an incredible staff. People who go above and beyond to love and respect each and every one of their patients. What an incredibly loving atmosphere. A team that saves lives for a living and cares and truly cares about each and every individual person. When I tell you that I love going to the office, I know you’ll think I’m crazy, but it’s the truth. My doctor and his staff are special. Please, If you see Dr. Ben-Zur or any of his staff members, please give them a big hug. Tell them Leibel sends his love and gratitude for keeping his family together.
The purpose of this letter is to help save lives. You need to understand how lucky I was that I was a patient of Dr. Ben Zurs and the Cardiac Institute. Once I woke up six days later, I had several doctors and nurses at the Tarzana Hospital coming in to see me and they called me a miracle. I thought they were being kind and encouraging me to help. The truth is that a very close friend of mine is a cardiac care specialist who has won fellowships and publishes and delivers papers at prestigious cardiac conferences. He explained to me three months after my heart attack just how lucky I was to have Dr. Ben Zur provide the care he did when I needed it. My friend explained that because I went so long without oxygen from not breathing and because it took precious moments to start CPR which lasted so long, the statistics of my survival, particularly that I, thank G-d, didn’t have any loss of mental capacity nor physical complications were probably 1 in 1 million. Yes – I am a miracle. What that means is that there are 999,999 others most-likely that given the same situation would be dead or a vegetable.
So what do you do? Please, I beg of you do the following:
1.Go to Dr. Ben Zur for a check-up.
2.Start a vegetarian diet. Get your family, including your children to start eating properly, especially if you have a family history of cardiac disease.
3.Exercise. It is the summer now and my wife and I walk laps at the mall. It is air conditioned with flat surfaces and there are bathrooms and chairs available to sit down if you need them.
4.Take your blood pressure and start a record of your daily BP, weight, medications, and exercise so you and Dr. Ben Zur can see how you are doing over time.
5.Realize that while your work is important, your family is more important. I wore my strong work ethic like a badge of honor. I used to be so proud that I was one of the first in the office in the morning and always the last to leave Working 60 or more hours on a salaried job where you are not paid a dollar more over 40 hours indicates you have your priorities wrong.
6.Take vacations. Give your family the memories they can share with their children and grandchildren.
7.Sleep. Again, I used to be so proud of myself that I was able to work an extremely long day on four hours of sleep. Lack of sleep plays a major role in weight gain, stress, and heart disease. To quote Forrest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does.”
8.Love yourself. Dr. Ben Zur almost always greets you with a hug because he knows that in today’s high energy environment, we rarely take care of ourselves. When Dr. Ben Zur hugs me, it brings me back to a reality that I too have to hug myself. I have to love myself because I deserve to be loved.
9. Finally, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you MIGHT need emergency medical attention, call 9-1-1 immediately. I was the 1 in a million chance that survived cardiac arrest after waiting far too long to get treatment and you and your family will have a much higher rate of survival if you go into the emergency room from an ambulance than if you drive in yourself.
10.Have your family and friends learn CPR and the signs of cardiac arrest and stroke. Seconds mean lives.
Thank G-d I don’t have any recollection of the physical pain associated with my heart attack. Having said that, however, knowing that I cause my wife and children such pain hearing I may die and seeing me on life support is horrible. I live with this guilt every day. But I use this guilt as the motivation to exercise more, eat a vegetarian diet, and walk away from stress at work and home. I want to become their role model of healthy living. That is the only way I can bear the guilt of having given them such a scare.
Thank you very much for reading my letter. I would be glad to further discuss my near-death experience, as well as how I am making the necessary changes in my life to beat heart disease. I suggest you reach out to Dr. Ben Zur and Ramiro to get a hold of me.
Wishing you the good health.
Visit our page on