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Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Cardiology & Cardiac Surgery Archive

February 6th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Mayo Patient, Staffer Run Phoenix 10K Together

By Hoyt Finnamore

Don Salamone  and Linda Staley run in 10K race. Mayo Clinic patient Don Salamone is proof that being in great shape before undergoing a heart transplant can enhance recovery. Even while tethered to a ventricular assist device that kept his heart functioning until the transplant surgery, he pushed himself to work out on a stationary bike for two hours daily and walked several miles on a treadmill.

While he could handily beat the competition in races before he received the implanted device, he couldn’t beat viral cardiomyopathy, which makes it harder for your heart to pump and deliver blood to the rest of your body, and can lead to heart failure.

Don underwent his heart transplant surgery in October 2012. True to his mission, he spent only eight days in the hospital following the surgery.

“I made a pledge to be in good shape before the surgery and to always honor my responsibility to my donor to take care of this heart,” Don says. As a result, within days of his surgery, he was up early, walking laps, training and eventually competing in numerous runs in Arizona and elsewhere.

Fast forward to Jan. 16, 2015. Now close to age 60, Don was living his promise. He was at the 10K starting line at the popular P.F. Chang’s Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in Phoenix, where some 30,000 athletes participated.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Arizona Campus, cardiomyopathy, Heart Transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center


February 2nd, 2015 · Leave a Comment

An Extension of the Heart

By Hoyt Finnamore

Marla Burkhart with her son, Noah.Marla Burkhart’s heart was functioning at roughly 30 percent when she was rushed to the hospital for an emergency cesarean section eight weeks before the due date of her first child. After she and her husband had chosen a name for their child, she placed her faith in her heart and the support of a network of family, friends, co-workers and Mayo Clinic staff, as baby Noah was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU, and Marla, to the Critical Cardiac Care Unit.

Just three hours prior to the surgery, Marla had been diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy, a rare pregnancy-related heart condition. Occurring in roughly 1 in 3,000 deliveries, it is the result of an enlarged, weakened heart. The condition is generally diagnosed during the last months of pregnancy and causes inefficient blood circulation.

Marla originally thought her symptoms were just normal changes resulting from her pregnancy. Even when her legs gave out at eight weeks, she shrugged it off. She had problems sleeping due to shortness of breath, and she eventually had to sleep upright.

Marla switched to Mayo Clinic from another provider in the middle of her pregnancy because she had struggled with becoming pregnant in the past and says she wanted the best possible care. At her 32-week appointment, she described her continued discomfort to her physician. An ECG revealed an abnormality. She was shocked by the diagnosis. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: cardiomyopathy, Go Red for Women, Heart Month, NICU


January 2nd, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Becoming Whole Again After Cancer Treatment

By Susana Shephard

Kristine Long, a patient at Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus, has had an incredible journey as a three-time Hodgkin's lymphoma survivor. In the course of her struggle, she has also overcome congestive heart failure and subsequent voice impairment.

In the video below, she explains how the care provided by her Mayo Clinic physicians, James Slack, M.D., a hematologist; D. Eric Steidley, M.D., a cardiologist; and David Lott, M.D., an otorhinolaryngologist, along with their care teams, has made her a whole person again. She also talks before and after repair to her vocal chords about what that procedure has meant to her personally and how it's given her renewed confidence as well as giving her voice back.



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Tags: Hodgkins lymphoma, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Voice Impairment, Arizona Campus


November 5th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Not Ready to Slow Down

By Hoyt Finnamore

A second opinion at Mayo Clinic helped Harold Magy return to the active schedule he loves

Harold and Judy Magy enjoying a fall day in Minnesota.For years, Harold Magy was familiar with the inner workings of Mayo Clinic. As a mechanical engineer for more than two decades with a company that frequently worked with Mayo, he knew the ins and outs of many of the clinic’s complex mechanical systems in Rochester, Minnesota. But during that time, he was never a patient at Mayo, and he never thought he would be.

"I have had heart problems for a long time," says Harold. "I always took care of it with my local doctors. I didn't think about going anywhere else."

That changed in the summer of 2013. Harold's health had slowly deteriorated to a point that he had very little energy and spent most of his time at home. His wife, Judy, ultimately insisted he seek another opinion about the best treatment for his heart condition. Today, Harold is extremely grateful for his wife's persistence. Thanks to a revamped treatment plan developed by his physicians at Mayo Clinic, now at age 88, Harold has returned to working and teaching on a regular basis.

"Since I went to Mayo Clinic, I've gotten better and better," he says. "I feel mentally sharp, and I'm back to doing what I love." Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Heart Failure, Cardiovascular Diseases, Patient Stories


June 11th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Near-death experience brings second chance, new calling

By Hoyt Finnamore

Nancy Capelle with emergency medical technician Mike Szumagala, whose quick actions helped save her life.

Nancy Capelle with emergency medical technician Mike Szumagala, whose quick actions helped save her life.

On May 14, 2011, Nancy Capelle, a wife and mother of two young daughters, clinically died at the age of 40. She suffered spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD), a condition that blocks blood flow to the heart causing a heart attack, abnormalities in heart rhythm and sudden death. But thanks to the quick actions of a paramedic, she is alive today to tell her harrowing story of life and death.

What was so hard for Nancy to comprehend following her medical emergency, she says, was that in a blink of an eye and without warning, healthy young women can be stricken by SCAD and die. Yet it didn’t appear from her research into the condition that the medical community was actively researching the tragic phenomenon. Perhaps it was because it was considered so rare that support for such a study would be difficult to find, she thought, or that finding enough SCAD survivors would be even more problematic.

Then Nancy came across an article in the Aug. 30, 2011, edition of The Wall Street Journal titled, “When Patients Band Together -- Using Social Networks To Spur Research for Rare Diseases; Mayo Clinic Signs On.” For Nancy, this article changed the dark face of SCAD dramatically, and she would find herself and many other young women just like her able to see daylight again. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Cardiovascular Diseases, clinical trials, Dr Sharrone Hayes, heart attack, Heart Disease, SCAD, Social Media


May 23rd, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Healthy Lifestyle Doesn’t Always Eliminate Risk of Heart Disease

By Paul Scotti

of 67 year-old Donald Glynn of Jacksonville, Fla., an avid runner who participated in countless marathons, half marathons and 5K races over the last 30 years.Sometimes even doing everything right to live a healthy lifestyle isn’t enough to ward off a serious illness.

Such was the case of 67-year-old Donald Glynn of Jacksonville, Fla., an avid runner who has participated in countless marathons, half marathons and 5K races over the last 30 years. He also watched his diet, weight and blood pressure, and did most of the things you’d expect of someone who led a healthy lifestyle. But Donald, who worked as a surgical assistant at Mayo Clinic in both Rochester and Florida before his retirement, neglected one thing — regular checkups. Given his family’s history of heart disease (his mother, grandmother and grandfather all had it), that turned out to be a serious mistake.

After experiencing an irregular heart rate earlier this year, Donald was shocked to learn that his arteries were severely blocked and that he’d need a heart transplant. His condition was serious enough that while waiting for a new heart, he’d need to have a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implanted to help his damaged heart function properly.

“Needless to say, given my lifestyle and being a runner for so many years, I was stunned to hear about the condition of my heart,” he says. “I thought I was doing everything right, but given my family history, it apparently wasn’t enough.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Donald Glynn, Dr Daniel Yip, Florida, Heart Disease, LVAD, MayoClinicFL, Patient Stories, transplant


April 2nd, 2014 · 1 Comment

The Team Behind Team Lola

By Hoyt Finnamore

Lola points to her scar from heart surgery

Most 13-year-old girls wouldn't see having a scar down the middle of their chests as cool. Lola Montilla, however, is not your average 13-year-old girl. When she looks at the scar on her chest from the surgery she had at Mayo Clinic to repair the Ebstein’s anomaly heart defect she was born with, she says it serves as a reminder that what doesn't kill us does indeed make us stronger.

"I really, really like my scar," Lola says, from her home in Puerto Rico. "Every time I look at it, it makes me think, 'Wow, I really did go through this, and I'm now back here at home.'"

Her mom, Mari Serrano-Montilla, says she and her husband learned that Lola would be born with Ebstein’s anomaly -- a rare heart defect that causes blood to leak back through the tricuspid valve, forcing the heart to work much harder than normal -- late in her pregnancy. "Our doctors here in Puerto Rico said she might need surgery, but it was a matter of just seeing how much progress she made," she says.

Outside of not being able to participate in competitive sports in school or go on any of "the cool rides" when her family visited Disney World, Lola lived the first 12 years of her life without much complication or difficulty. But then, just before her 13th birthday, things began to change. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Atrial Septum Defect, Cardiovascular Disease, cardiovascular surgery, Dr Joseph Dearani, Ebstein's Anomaly, heart & heart surgery, patient story


December 3rd, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Child’s play — at long last

By Mayo Clinic

Deshawn Corbin

After heart surgery, Deshawn Corbin can run, jump and swim like a kid ... for the first time

Deshawn Corbin is just 15 years old. But he’s already experienced more life than most people many times his age.

Deshawn was born with complex congenital heart disease that affected the way blood traveled through his body and kept him from getting enough oxygen. His teenage mother, who’d had no prenatal care, realized she would be unable to care for a child with such special needs and gave him up for adoption. On the day he was born, Deshawn became a ward of the state and had his first open heart surgery. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: cardiac surgery, Congenital Heart Disease, Dr Ann Reed, Dr Ben Eidem, Dr Harold Burkhart, Fontan Procedure, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, Patient Stories, Pediatrics


September 5th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

A lifetime of lessons in 20 short years

By Admin

Ashley Jagodzinski

Ashley Jagodzinski

It hasn't been an easy path for Ashley Jagodzinski. To say the least. So you'll pardon Ashley and her mom (Mayo employee Erin Jagodzinski) if they're a touch enthusiastic about Ashley officially starting her college career this fall.

A few things conspired to stop Ashley from getting to this point. Three open-heart surgeries by age 12 (the first, at just 6 months of age). Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. A stroke. A brain hemorrhage. Seizures. And, astoundingly, and sadly, bullies who picked on Ashley for missing school when her physical difficulties took a toll.

Ashley and her family turned to Mayo Clinic often during those years. And at age 17, after suffering a stroke, seizures and a brain hemorrhage, Ashley and her family moved to Rochester to be closer to Mayo. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Ashley Jagodzinski, cardiovascular surgery, Dr. Allison Cabalka, Dr. Francisco Puga, Erin Jagodzinski, Mayo Clinic, Patient Stories, rheumatoid arthritis, seizures, stroke


September 1st, 2013 · 2 Comments

Eluding the ‘Widow Maker': The Checkup that Saved His Life

By Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss

George Roberts, vice president of a Florida-based road construction and contracting company

“You have to go to know.”

George Roberts will tell you he’s a busy man — too busy to worry about a physical.

As vice president of a Florida-based road construction and contracting company and chair of two industry groups, he’s got a lot to oversee. Taking time for a doctor’s visit wasn’t on his schedule.

However, Roberts refused to be absent when his wife, Stephanie, was scheduled for a preventive surgical procedure at Mayo Clinic earlier this summer. With her urging, he agreed to schedule a checkup at the same time. His wife’s insistence and that physical exam probably saved his life.

Roberts, then 46, was eligible to participate in Mayo Clinic’s Executive Health Program, best described as a comprehensive physical taking place over one to three days. The specialized program has served busy executives for more than 30 years and offers an efficient, cost-effective way to proactively manage health.

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Tags: executive physical, heart, widow maker, Dr. Rodriguez, Executive Health, george roberts, manuel rodriguez, Florida, Mayo Clinic in Florida, MayoClinicFL