Life Before and After Arrhythmia: Cynthia's Story
After an advanced cardiac ablation procedure, Cynthia can hit the trails again
"I was only 30 years old when it first happened. I picked up some groceries and felt a huge pounding in my chest. Luckily, my neighbor called the paramedics and soon I was in the emergency room. Afterwards I learned that I have Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia, a common arrhythmia that appears even if you’re healthy and have a strong heart. Olympic runners can average about 180 beats per minute during an event. That day, my heart was racing more than 300 beats per minute.
"I learned about ablation, but I was too nervous to consider it. Even though ablation is a minimally invasive procedure, I thought, ‘I’m too young for heart surgery.’
"Nothing happened for several months, and then suddenly my heart started racing and I had to call the paramedics again. This went on every six months or so for almost nine years. Things I loved to do began slipping away from me. I’m very active, and my husband and I love to travel and hike. One time, while hiking in the Caribbean’s St. Lucia mountains, I had to turn back and wait while my husband finished the hike by himself. My heart was beating fast and I thought the arrhythmia would “kick in.” The nearest hospital was two hours away. I just couldn’t take the chance.
"The anxiety was the hardest part, never knowing when or where it would happen. One day I’d take a bike ride and feel fine. The next, I’d be having a pedicure and end up in the ER. This year, the occurrences started becoming more frequent—once every couple of weeks. Days of exhaustion would follow, and as soon as my energy came back there was another occurrence.
"My physician gave me several referrals for the ablation. But a friend had recently had the procedure at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital and had great things to say about the experience. I have to admit, I was surprised at how advanced the facility was—I thought I’d have to go to a Chicago hospital. I live in the suburbs and didn’t want to take time off work or make a long drive. I was really glad that great cardiologists were right here and able to work out of Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab.
"The nurses were amazing, too—they appreciate that it’s not easy to come in for a heart procedure and they made me feel so comfortable. They went well beyond the call of duty and followed up with me at home several times.
"Now I can do all of the activities I love and the anxiety is gone. In fact, I wish I had done this a lot sooner. If you suspect an arrhythmia, don’t wait."