Heart to Heart 2012 [2 of 3] – Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Institute

Heart to Heart 2012 [2 of 3] – Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Institute

August 14, 2019 0 By Bertrand Dibbert


You’re watching “Heart to Heart” on ABC27,
brought to you by Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Welcome back. A Cumberland County man thought
he had a bad cold. It turned out, his heart was in bad shape. His family had to make some
pretty big decisions to save his life. [music] Three days later, I then woke up.
When I woke up, I had a tube down my throat. Just was trying to figure out what happened.
Went back to sleep, and then I’d say probably another day later, I woke up again. My wife,
she started talk to me. She said, Jason, she says you’ve got a bad heart here. You’re going
to be in for a long haul, you know, to see what’s going to happen in time to come. He didn’t know how bad he was. He didn’t know
how we almost lost him. One day, the doctors came in. They gathered
around the bed, and they were talking with me, and they said, Jason, they said we, your
heart’s not good, and they said we really feel you need a heart transplant. Initially, a heart transplant was in Jason’s
future, but his heart became stronger. Since his heart seemed to recover faster than
expected, he did not need other means of mechanical circulatory support like a left ventricular
assist device, which is an external pump or undergo evaluation for a heart transplant. The news kept getting better. After 14 days,
doctors removed the ECMO device from Jason. It’s amazing because when they took him off
the machine, how his heart really was stronger. It was so obvious how his heart was just showing
that it was, had improvement because it was at rest for two weeks. Finally, they came to me, and they said, you
know, Jason, they said we think we’re just going to put a defibrillator, pacemaker in
you, and just send you home. Keep an eye on you and see, you know, what’s, where we go
from here – I was, like, I’m game. I don’t want to be
gotten up at 3:15 again to this nightmare. The implantable defibrillator is like a pacemaker.
It’s a computer that is not too big. It gets implanted on underneath the collarbone with
a lead, which is basically a cable that attaches inside to the heart muscle, and this lead
has electrodes that can sense the electrical activity of the heart. So if the heart is
to develop a fast abnormal rhythm, the computer will realize that, and identify it as a life-threatening
rhythm, and then deliver an electrical shock. It has a big enough battery that could generate
enough energy to reset the heart and then restore the normal heart rhythm. The doctors that came in, and they said, you
know, you’re going to be able to go home a couple days after you have the defibrillator
and pacemaker put in. At that point in time, you know, hearing the word home, you know,
going from, you know, needing a heart transplant to now going home, that was the greatest news
in the world at that point in time. After spending three weeks in the hospital,
Jason did go home. Family and friends gave him the emotional and the financial support
that he needed. Pray for Jason wristbands were sold. A benefit concert was held. I would not be where I’m at today if it wouldn’t
be for the love and support from family and friends. It took some time, but, gradually, Jason gained
more strength. He recovered. Today, I feel great. I still have a hard time
believing that I went through what I went through because I feel so good. I can’t believe how well he’s doing. He’s
better. I mean, he’s better than he was before. Really. I truly believe that. I am so thankful to have a second chance that
I can spend more time with my wife, see my kids grow up. Just to be a part of their lives
another day means the world to me. You know, it makes you stop and think about and reprioritize
things a little bit in your life, what’s important, what isn’t. [ Music ] And Jason said this incident certainly brought
his family much closer. He said his family is now his priority. Jason is on heart-related
medications, and he sees doctors every six months. Chuck. Thank you, Debra. Now joining us on the desk
is Dr. John Boehmer, the program director of heart failure department. Now, we talked
during the break and before the show. Is this considered heart failure what happened to
Jason? Yes, it is, and heart failure actually is
more of a clinical syndrome than it is one specific heart condition. So many heart conditions
when they become abnormal enough can lead to heart failure, and heart failure simply
means that the heart doesn’t pump enough blood, or in order to pump enough blood, it has to
do it under abnormal conditions like the heart has to fill at higher pressures, and that
can cause symptoms and certain findings doctors can see. So it’s that constellation of symptoms
people have and findings doctors can see that we call heart failure. Is it dangerous? Well, any heart diagnosis is worrisome, and,
certainly, heart failure’s a worrisome diagnosis, and people can have trouble, can be limited,
and people can die from heart failure, but the good news is that we have ways to treat
and control it much like with Jason so that people can feel well and live long productive
lives even though they have such a diagnosis. How common is heart failure today in the country? Heart failure is a very common disease. Nearly
six million Americans have heart failure right now, and it’s the number one reason for somebody
in the Medicare age group to be hospitalized. So it is very common, and it leads to a lot
of symptoms and a lot of times to hospitalizations. Talk about the research and maybe some of
the new options available for someone with heart failure. Well, as I mentioned, the good news is we
have ways of treating heart disease, and much of it has to do with medical therapy. We have
good medicines to use to treat patients, and over the last 20 to 30 years we’ve developed
a number of medicines that have miraculously changed the heart failure condition to one
where if you had advanced heart failure we would expect you to die within a year or so
to the point where people can live many years and not only survive but live better. So we’ve
made great advances with that, but in terms of the new treatments that we have, like the
defibrillators. It’s only been in the last decade that we’ve used those before somebody
has a bad rhythm disturbance prophelactically. So we’re using those more commonly. We now
have mechanical blood pumps. Now, Jason had a blood pump that was used temporarily, but
we actually have pumps we can put inside people that they can go out, and you can walk past
somebody in the grocery store, not realize that they have a mechanical blood pump that’s
serving the function of their heart. And, finally, we’re working on ways of diagnosing
heart failure before people end up in the hospital to be able to monitor them. Making all kinds of progress, doctor. Thank
you for joining us here tonight. Let’s go back into the call center. Debra Pinkerton. Thanks, Chuck. We have time for another viewer
question. Dr. Kozak is here with us. My maternal and paternal grandfathers each developed advanced
heart disease in their 50’s. I’m only in my 20’s, but I’d like to know when I should get
tested for heart problems. Well, you know, I think it’s much more important
to start preventing heart disease in your 20’s than to worry about getting tested, and
I think that the questioner should make sure that he’s following a good diet and is getting
regular exercise, and also he should have his cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure
measured and treated if they’re elevated. And that’s something that we all should really
do. I think that’s a great point that we should
all be doing those kinds of things to prevent heart disease later in life. OK. Thanks so much, Dr. Kozak, and when we
come back, we will talk to a doctor from the Med Center who almost lost his life from a
serious heart problem. Stay with us. We’ll be right back. [ Music ]