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Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Cardiology & Cardiac Surgery

September 17th, 2016

Artist Back at the Drawing Board After A Stroke

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

bobgessner805Shirley and Bob Gessner have weathered some tough times during their 56 years of marriage. But nothing could have prepared Shirley for the night of April 10, 2015, when she awoke at 3:30 a.m. to a thud — the sound of her husband falling out of bed.

“I asked him what was the matter, but Bob couldn’t talk. He couldn’t move, and I couldn’t get him up,” says Shirley about her husband, a former advertising executive and designer of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Penguins logos. “I called 911 right away.”

The ambulance took Bob, 82, to the hospital closest to his home in St. Augustine, Florida, where doctors confirmed he was having a stroke.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Comprehensive Stroke Center, Dr David A Miller, Florida Campus, stroke, Thrombectomy, tPA, atrial fibrillation, Diabetes

September 9th, 2016

Why I Walk: Alexandra Abreu-Figueroa

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Alexandra Abreu Figueroa (right), pictured with her mother Lyana Figueroa-Soto, is inspired by the First Coast Heart Walk to improve her fitness and tackle a family struggle with weight.

Editor’s note: In this article, Alexandra Abreu-Figueroa, an intern in Public Affairs at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus, shares her story and discusses why she participates in the First Coast Heart Walk, an annual event sponsored by Mayo Clinic.

Growing up, I was always overweight. During my teenage years, in particular, I struggled — losing and gaining weight over and over again. I tried different diets, pills and exercises while battling bullying, depression and societal standards that said I should try to fix my body.

As an adult, I made the decision to have a gastric lap band inserted to help control my weight, but it still didn’t change my mindset.

Obesity is not out of the ordinary in my family nor in my culture. Most of my family members have had challenges with obesity at one point in their lives. And, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 42.5 percent of Latinos are overweight or obese. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Cardiology, First Coast Heart Walk, Heart Disease, stroke

August 16th, 2016

Coordination and Teamwork Make Simultaneous Surgeries Seamless for Heart Transplant Recipients

By Hoyt Finnamore HoytFinnamore

WilliamandMichale805Michael Tyler and William Tiger didn’t know one another before the summer of 2016. But they now share a unique life event. Both 55-year-olds underwent heart transplant surgery at Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus on the same day, at the same time. Completing the simultaneous procedures was a milestone for the Transplant Center team in Arizona, who had not previously been called on to perform more than one heart transplant at a time.

“It was truly remarkable how the team came together,” says transplant coordinator Allison Smith, who said the offers for both hearts came in on a Friday afternoon. Extensive coordination and precise timing were crucial to providing the best possible outcomes for the patients.

“When we all came in on Monday morning and knew the patients were doing well, it was like a euphoric high,” she says.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Arizona campus, Dr Louis Lanza, Dr Octavio Pajaro, heart transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, Michael Marranca, ventricular assist device

August 12th, 2016

Life Beyond A Heart Transplant is Vibrant and Full for Elmo Aquino

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

For years, Elmo Aquino dealt with persistent heart problems that eventually led to a heart transplant. Since then, he’s moved forward and has been thriving, both personally and professionally.

Fifteen years ago, Elmo Aquino, a resident of Orange Park, Florida, was an avid runner. He’d competed in Jacksonville's Gate River Run, an annual 15-kilometer running event, several times. But one morning in the summer of 2001, his active lifestyle came to an abrupt end when suddenly, while on a treadmill, he found he couldn’t run.

“I knew something was wrong, because I was used to running,” recalls Elmo, now age 43. He knew he needed medical treatment. “I could have gone to some of the other hospitals,” he says. “But with Mayo Clinic here in town, it was a no-brainer for me.”

Elmo was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy — a condition in which the chambers of the heart become enlarged — and he ended up in the intensive care unit. That’s where he first met Daniel Yip, M.D., medical director for the Heart Failure and Transplant Program at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dilated Cardiomyopathy, Dr Daniel Yip, Dr Jeffrey Hosenpud, Left Ventricular Assist Device, Mayo Clinic in Florida, transient ischemic attack

August 3rd, 2016

Healing Baby Lucas’ Heart With His Own Cells

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

A Mayo Clinic research team led by Timothy Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., is using Lucas Gutman’s own stem cells to try and save him from needing a heart transplant later in life. Jennifer Gutman calls the day doctors diagnosed her youngest son, Lucas, with hypoplastic left heart syndrome the worst day of her life. The severe heart defect, sometimes referred to as HLHS, was uncovered during what Jennifer and her husband, Brian, thought would be a routine ultrasound.

The startling news brought immediate fears for Lucas’ future.

Determined to help Lucas, Jennifer’s sister-in-law, a physician, reached out to medical colleagues for advice. One of the phone calls she made led her to Timothy Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Connecting with Dr. Nelson and his team has made the long-term outlook for Lucas and his family considerably brighter.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: clinical trials, Dr Timothy Nelson, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, Karen Miller, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, regenerative medicine, research

June 30th, 2016

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

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

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

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

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

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

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

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