Rescuing Drowning Hearts
CLEVELAND, OH(Ivanhoe Newswire) - Often mistaken as a heart attack, it’s one of the most misdiagnosed heart problems there is. One in a thousand people will develop it at some point in their life and a lot of times it strikes a person in their 30’s or 40’s. The problem causes your heart to literally drown or suffocate to death.
"The waves were pretty big," Linda Gould-Faber, told Ivanhoe.
During a sailing trip an oar struck Linda Gould-Faber smack dab in the middle of her chest.
"It hit me full force. I knew immediately I had done something not good," Linda said.
Linda hurt her pericardium.
"The pericardium is a sack around the heart; the skin around the heart that protects the heart from expansion," Allan Klein, M.D., a Cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, explained.
When damaged, fluid can build up between the layers of pericardium and the heart.
"It’s one of the worst cardiac pains that you can imagine," Linda said.
Caused by trauma in Linda’s case, viral infections, arthritis, and lupus can also put you at risk. Most people with pericarditis think they’re having a heart attack.
"All of the sudden they can’t take a breath, it hurts to breath, they break out in a sweat," Dr. Klein said.
An echocardiogram showed Linda’s sac was full of fluid. Instead of open heart surgery, cardiologists performed a minimally invasive partial pericardactomy.
"You notice right in the operating room the pressures come down," Dr. Klein said.
More than 30 ounces of fluid was drained from Linda’s pericardium. The surgery cut her recovery time to three weeks compared to two months for open heart surgery.
"One of the things that’s amazing, I have no restrictions. I can do all sorts of physical activity," Linda said.
To prove it, Linda climbed a volcano in Hawaii.
The first treatment option for viral pericarditis is anti-inflammatories, and occasionally, steroids. Once drugs are no longer effective patients would have to undergo open heart surgery to fix the problem. Without surgery, pericarditis can lead to heart failure.
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