Patient Stories

Patient Stories

At MHVI our patients have taught us some important lessons about the power of healing, the will to change, and the difference science and technology can sometimes make. They have chosen to share their remarkable stories with you.

Joan Vasseur was a 54-year-old busy career woman when she started to experience atrial fibrillation, a common heart rhythm disorder that affects more than 2.7 million Americans each year. Each time she had atrial fibrillation she experienced fluttering in her chest and a choking sensation in her throat.  These episodes often occurred at night, and she became afraid to fall asleep. For the first two years, Joan’s symptoms were controlled with medications. But for the next 10 years, her rhythm condition worsened, and she began to have frequent visits to the emergency room with many hospital admissions.

Del Salter of Blaine, Minnesota is one of the five million people in the United States who has heart failure.  Every day, he takes twelve medications. Despite that, he felt tired and weak and had trouble controlling his weight from fluid build-up due to a weak heart pump.  Eventually, Dr. Amin Rahmatullah, a heart failure specialist at MHVI convinced him to have a miniaturized, wireless monitoring sensor called CardioMEMS implanted in his pulmonary artery at Mercy Hospital.  Every day since then he has transmitted sensor readings to his cardiologist.

QP was a 37 year old male who with a 10 year history of an enlarged heart (also known as cardiomyopathy) when he was admitted to Mercy Hospital after 2 weeks of a worsening cough and breathing difficulties. Shortly after arriving at Mercy it became increasingly clear to his doctors that he had severe pump failure.  His blood pressure was 67/40 when Dr. Chad Olinger from the MHVI Heart Failure service first met him. He was in shock.

Gene Bak was 68 when he starting having chest pain. Decades of a sedentary lifestyle and an unhealthy American diet had finally caught up with him. At first he thought he was just having indigestion, but further evaluation revealed he had significant blockages in his heart. At age 68 he had 2 stents placed in his heart by Dr. Randall Stark, an interventional cardiologist at MHVI.

Patricia Siedlecki was 64 when she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.  Over the next several years she would become more and more fatigued and winded from a weakening heart.  Her heart enlarged even though she took heart medications and religiously did her cardiac rehab.  She required more and more diuretics just to keep her lungs from filling up with fluid.

Jim Brunelle was 57 when he underwent a quadruple bypass surgery for blockages in his heart. Things went well for him until 10 years later when he began to notice right buttock, hip, and thigh pain every time he walked. At first he would not feel this hip and leg pain after walking three blocks. Gradually the pain got more severe with less and less activity.  Jim felt bad on road trips with his friends when they had to stop and wait for him every few minutes because of his leg pain.

Garry Frankel, a 55 year-old photographer from Winnipeg, Canada, was visiting Minnesota for an international youth soccer tournament when on July 19, 2009, he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in his motel room. His wife woke up at 1 a.m. to a gurgling sound coming from Garry. He had stopped breathing and was unresponsive.

Steve Q. was a previously healthy 49-year-old man when he got out of bed to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and then suddenly collapsed without warning. His wife awoke from sleep to find him unconscious on the floor. He was not breathing.  She immediately called 911 for help and started CPR on her husband until paramedics arrived. An EKG promptly diagnosed a massive heart attack and Steve was immediately rushed to Mercy Hospital.