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Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Cardiology & Cardiac Surgery

June 30th, 2016

Quick Access to Stroke Experts Through Telemedicine Makes All the Difference for George Hoggard

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GeorgeHoggard805b George Hoggard knows a thing or two about the importance of a rapid response. A former firefighter, the 78-year-old Titusville, Florida, resident spent the better part of his 42-year career teaching astronauts at the Kennedy Space Center how to escape to safety in the event of an emergency on the launch pad. He also was a member of the rescue team that would respond if something went wrong with a space shuttle mission.

So when his right eye suddenly began looking left while watching TV on a Sunday evening in April 2016, George knew something was amiss. When he began feeling nauseated, he told his wife, Rita, he needed to get to the hospital.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr David Barrett, Florida Campus, Mayo Clinic Care Network, stroke, Stroke Telemedicine


June 26th, 2016

Former Airman, Stroke Survivor Tells of Life Punctuated by Commas

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Former senior airman, R. Brady Johnson, survived a cerebral hemorrhage and stroke.When stroke survivor R. Brady Johnson first visited Mayo Clinic nearly nine years ago, his doctors didn't quite know what to make of him. Not only was his stroke, at age 31, unusual, but his post-stroke physicality surprised the team of neurologists he'd come to see.

It had been just over a year since Brady, who lives in Belvedere, Illinois, had a major stroke during a surgery to mitigate a cerebral hemorrhage. The stroke cost him the sensation in his right side, the ability to speak, to run, and a litany of other abilities. Yet, in the time between the stroke and visiting Mayo, the former senior airman for the U.S. Air Force and marathon runner had managed to coax his body to do things that his rehabilitation team initially said would be impossible.

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Tags: Cerebral Hemorrhage, Neurology & Neurosurgery, neurosurgery, stroke


June 17th, 2016

Difficult Diagnosis Interrupts Residency, Gives Young Doctor a New View of Patient Care

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Natalie Ertz-Archambault, M.D. plans to apply for fellowships in hematology and medical oncology after uncovering the cause of her illness.Successfully finishing a medical residency is a significant milestone in any physician's career. But when Natalie Ertz-Archambault, M.D., graduated in June 2016 from the Internal Medicine Residency at Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus, the achievement felt particularly sweet.

"It was an incredible success for me, since I actually started my residency in 2012, completed four months, and then became too ill to work," she says. "At that time, I wasn't sure if I'd ever reach graduation."

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Tags: Arizona campus, Dr Fadi Shamoun, Dr Leslie Thomas, Dr Natalie Ertz-Archambault, Dr Richard Fowl, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Internal Medicine Residency


June 15th, 2016

Treatment to Slow a Quick Heartbeat Returns Jim Davis to His Fast-Paced Life

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Jim Davis is back to an active life after cardiac ablation.For 10 years, Jim Davis had a rapid heartbeat. He was otherwise healthy, though, so Jim wasn't particularly worried about it. He blamed the quick heart rate on his morning coffee.

In time, however, the condition began to affect his daily life. Medication didn't seem to help. When Jim sought care at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, his doctor discovered an underlying heart disorder that had gone undiagnosed.

Doctors were able to address his heart problems with a procedure called cardiac catheter ablation.

Today Jim's heart is still in rhythm. The rest of his life picked up the beat. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: cardiac catheter ablation, Dr. Fred Kusumoto, Florida Campus, Heart Arrhythmia, rapid heartbeat, tachycardia


May 23rd, 2016

Celebrating 40 Twice as Nice After Recovery From Surprising Stroke

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Sherry Pinkstaff, Ph.D., enjoys time with family after a stroke.It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and despite having house guests, Sherry Pinkstaff, Ph.D., awoke at 6 a.m., just as she did every day, and began planning her morning run.

Sherry, then 39, ran daily. Exercise was important to her. After all, she’d made it her career. She was a professor of physical therapy at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville and a research collaborator at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus. She spends her days teaching students and patients about the power of exercise and its impact on cardiovascular health.

Climbing out of bed on this morning, though, she recalls feeling “off.” Although she initially shrugged off that feeling, she would quickly realize this was the first of several signs something more serious was in play.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Cardiovascular Diseases, Comprehensive Stroke Center, Dr Benjamin Brown, Florida Campus, Patent Foramen Ovale, Sherry Pinkstaff, stroke


May 19th, 2016

Teacher Smelling the Roses Again Thanks to Minimally Invasive Heart Procedures

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

LucyLorden805For years, Lucy Lorden suffered from an irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath. But one April morning in 2014, the Ormond Beach, Florida, elementary school teacher was barely able to walk from the parking lot to her classroom.

Thinking she had pneumonia, Lucy, then 56, went to see her primary care doctor. “The doctor told me to go to the emergency room right away,” she recalls. “My heart was beating at 192 beats per minute.”

At the local hospital, doctors diagnosed Lucy with atrial fibrillation, a condition in which the upper heart chambers, the atria, beat irregularly.

Lucy visited a local cardiologist, who prescribed several medications to regulate her rapid heartbeat and her thyroid levels. He advised follow-up every three months and once she turned 60, blood thinners to prevent a stroke. Unfortunately, just a few months shy of her 57th birthday, she would need more than simple follow-up. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Ablation, atrial fibrillation, Atrial Flutter, Florida Campus, irregular heartbeat, stroke


April 22nd, 2016

Following Her Father’s Last Words, Vivian Finds New Life Because of Mayo Clinic

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

VivianTsai805Vivian Tsai remembers the last words her father said to her: "See a doctor." He recognized her symptoms.

For years, puzzling symptoms and a troubling medical condition had stalked their family. Growing up in Taiwan, Vivian was athletic and seemed to be healthy. However, she began to lose strength in her early 30s and went to the doctor with her father, Paul. Vivian was told she had a heart condition. "But no one really explained the problem to me," she says.

At first, Vivian was able to dismiss the symptoms. She even competed in a triathlon at age 40. But as she watched another member of her family struggle with symptoms she recognized in herself, her own condition became harder to ignore.

Over time, Vivian's symptoms had taken hold of her life, affecting her daily activities. She was not able to talk for more than 30 seconds without losing breath. While eating dinner, Vivian would often have to lie down for half an hour before returning to her meal because she would become so tired and lightheaded. Vivian's fear of having arrhythmia attacks also hindered her social life.

"I was afraid to go out on my own even to take a simple walk in the park," she says. "I didn't dare do that by myself."  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Apical Myectomy, Development, Heart Disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, International Medicine


April 10th, 2016

Heart Transplant Opens Door to Leading a Full Life

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

TaraBrigham2-805For 33-year-old Tara Brigham of Jacksonville, Florida, living with a heart condition since birth wasn't something that was going to get in the way of living an active normal life. In fact, she says the heart transplant she received six years ago as a result of her condition has made her life even more fulfilling.

A Minnesota native, Tara was diagnosed with enlargement of the heart during a routine checkup when she was 1 year old. While she had not had any symptoms of a heart problem since birth, the enlargement was significant enough that her physician at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus suggested that a biopsy of her heart should be done right away. She was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick. The thickened heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body to vital organs.

Tara's heart was monitored closely by her doctors at Mayo Clinic and later a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy specialist at the University of Minnesota. Since Tara was an active, healthy child otherwise, and what was known about her condition in children was limited, she was not put on medication, but doctors advised that she avoid strenuous activities.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr Daniel Yip, Florida Campus, heart transplant, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, ventricular assist device


January 27th, 2016

Mom of 6-Year-Old Counts Reasons to Take Heart Health Seriously

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Marla Burkhart made lifestyle changes to improve her heart health. Marla Burkhart's story dates back to 2009, when she underwent an emergency cesarean section at Mayo Clinic eight weeks before her due date. Before the surgery took place, doctors discovered that Marla had a condition called peripartum cardiomyopathy, a rare pregnancy-related heart condition that occurs in about 1 in 3,000 deliveries and causes inefficient blood circulation. Despite the complications, however, Marla delivered a healthy baby boy named Noah.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: cardiomyopathy, Dr Lori Blauwet, Go Red Campaign, Heart Disease, peripartum cardiomyopathy, women's health


January 15th, 2016

Stroke at 36 Comes as Shock, Reveals Deeper Issues

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Scott Gunderson with his familyScott Gunderson is a typical working father of three young children. His days typically are full of meetings, play dates, golf games and helping manage his busy family’s calendar. You likely wouldn't guess that the 38-year-old from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, is a stroke survivor and heart valve patient. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Eau Claire, Endocarditis, Mayo Clinic Health System, stroke


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