Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Cardiology & Cardiac Surgery Archive

April 22nd, 2016 · Leave a Comment

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 · Leave a Comment

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 · Leave a Comment

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

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

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 · Leave a Comment

Stroke at 36 Comes as Shock, Reveals Deeper Issues

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

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


January 13th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Employee, Caregiver, Patient: Many Hats for Andrea Liptac

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Andrea Liptac found help for heart conditions at Mayo Clinic. Andrea Liptac describes her journey to Mayo Clinic as a "winding road."

She first learned about Mayo in the early 1990s, when she was living in Montana with her family. At that time, her mother, Kelli Liptac, was diagnosed with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure, and was referred to a specialist at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. Her chronic conditions would warrant multiple trips to Rochester over the years. She would ultimately land on the heart transplant list.

As Andrea approached college graduation in 2004 and began to consider where to apply her education as a laboratory technologist, she recalled her mother's visits to Rochester.

"My mom's treatment at Mayo Clinic indirectly influenced my decision to work here," Andrea recalls. She applied to work as a laboratory technician in the Protein Immunology Laboratory at Mayo and has remained in that role ever since.

Unfortunately, Andrea's Mayo Clinic experience went beyond her employment. She would learn she and her mother shared more in common than she knew, leading her on a  a surprising and difficult journey she says gave her a different perspective on Mayo Clinic and a new understanding of the patient experience.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: congestive heart failure, Dilated Cardiomyopathy, Dr Barry Boilson, Employee Stories, Left Ventricular Assist Device, Patient Stories, Rochester Campus, transplant, Transplant List, Dr David Joyce


December 23rd, 2015 · 1 Comment

Holiday Season Brighter for Pulmonary Hypertension Patient After Surgery

By Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss cindyweiss

Laura Floeckher found help for pulmonary hypertension at Mayo Clinic. The holiday season is much brighter this year for Laura Floeckhler, 45, from Orlando, Florida. Laura was diagnosed last Christmas with pulmonary hypertension, a rare disorder of the lungs affecting about 30 in every one million people. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Blood Clots, Florida Campus, Lung Disease, pulmonary hypertension, Pulmonary Thromboendarterectomy, Charles Burger, Kevin Landolfo, MayoClinicFL


December 8th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Transplant Diary and a Father’s Day Heart

By Hoyt Finnamore HoytFinnamore

Clint Frederick wrote a book about his heart transplant experience at Mayo Clinic. When Clint Frederick learned that he needed a heart transplant, he naturally wondered what the road ahead would look like. So he searched for a book that described the process from a patient’s perspective.

His search came up short. But it planted seed. Perhaps he'd change things for other patients.

"After I was approved for a heart transplant, I decided to keep a diary," he says. The diary became the basis for a book, supplemented by information he drew from his medical record, that chronicles Clint's 110 days on the transplant list. But his story begins long before his wait for a new heart.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Arizona campus, Cardiovascular Diseases, congestive heart failure, defibrillator, Heart Disease, heart transplant, Pacemaker, Transplant List


November 25th, 2015 · 1 Comment

Surprise Diagnosis Spurs Learning Curve, Search for Help

By Hoyt Finnamore HoytFinnamore

Cheryl Sturdevant was surprised by her livedoid vasculitis diagnosis.Diagnosed with a rare disease, livedoid vasculopathy, Cheryl Sturdevant turned to Mayo Clinic for help. Then she turned to helping others.


When Cheryl Sturdevant found out she had livedoid vasculopathy, she had no idea what it was. An uncommon disorder, livedoid vasculopathy affects the skin. For no clear reason, it often causes deep wounds in the lower legs and feet, and those wounds can trigger debilitating pain.

"I had symptoms from my calves down onto my feet. The wounds on top of my feet made it difficult to wear shoes. The pain was intense," says Cheryl. "I had been teaching at the time of my diagnosis. But I wasn't able to keep doing that, due to my symptoms. I started looking everywhere for information and help."

Both were hard to come by. Cheryl went to a number of doctors, including several specialists, but she was unable to find someone who could work with her to manage the disease.

She kept researching livedoid vasculopathy and found information about it on a Mayo Clinic website. That prompted her to make a phone call that would change everything.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dermatology, Dr Raymond Shields, Livedoid Vasculopathy, pain management, Vasculopathy


November 17th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Taking It in Stride — Amputations, Heart Surgeries and a Pump Won’t Dampen Dick Feller’s Spirit

By Hoyt Finnamore HoytFinnamore

Dick Feller remains positive about his unique medical experience, including amputations and a heart pump. Dick Feller likes to joke about his medical escapades.

In just six years, Dick Feller had three open-heart operations, had both legs and an arm amputated, and was fitted with a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, to keep his heart pumping. That's a lot for one person to take. But with unconditional support from his family and an unwavering sense of humor, Dick hasn't let the experience affect his attitude.

"I have three stumps and a pump," Dick, 71, jokes. "And because I didn't want things to get boring, I had gall bladder and kidney stone surgery in between those other procedures."  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Aortic Dissection, Cardiac Surgery, Cardiovascular Diseases, Dr John Stulak, heart surgery, Left Ventricular Assist Device


October 30th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Putting Kieran’s Heart Back Where it Belongs

By Hoyt Finnamore HoytFinnamore

Baby Kieran is health today thanks to pediatric heart surgery at Mayo Clinic.Caitlin Veitz never takes for granted just how special her daughter Kieran is. “She’s laid back, happy, wonderful,” Caitlin says.

The circumstances around her birth, however, were not as serene.

At her 20-week ultrasound, Caitlin learned her baby's heart was not where it was supposed to be and that it had developed outside of the chest wall. The condition, called ectopia cordis, is "one of the, if not the, most rare congenital heart defects,” according to Joseph Dearani, M.D., a Mayo Clinic pediatric cardiac surgeon.

“We didn’t have any idea that anything like that could happen," says Caitlin. "It was scary. The odds were stacked against her.”  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Cardiac Surgery, Congenital Heart Defect, Dr Joseph Dearani, Ectopia Cordis, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, 3d printing, Cardiology, Dr Carl Rose, Dr Christopher Moir, Dr Jane Matsumoto, Obstetrics, Pediatrics, Radiology