Heart Beats in Sync

  • Thursday, April 3, 2014

Suzie Green doesn't remember the night her heart stopped beating, but others have told her details.    

She was on a business trip to Maine on Aug. 25, 2008, when she walked outside a restaurant after dinner and experienced sudden cardiac arrest. Her colleagues found her a few moments later. It was eight minutes before medical professionals felt her pulse come back, a couple of days before she regained consciousness at the hospital and more than a week before she could go home to the South Carolina Lowcountry with her husband and two teen-aged children.   Green beat the odds as the one person in 20 who survives sudden cardiac arrest, and even more miraculously, she did not suffer brain damage. Before she left, the medical team in Maine installed a pacemaker-defibrillator in her heart to keep her heartbeat on pace and give her a lifesaving shock in case of a dangerous rhythm.   Once back home, she would return to work and taking care of her family, seemingly back to normal. But the cardiac arrest had damaged her heart and as a result thrown its two sides out of sync, so one side beat before the other.  The first heart doctors she saw locally didn't pick up on the problem. It wasn't until September 2012, when she went to see Dr. Darren Sidney with Charleston Heart Specialists that she learned about the ongoing problem and the potential solution.

Dr. Sidney's specialty is electrophysiology, making him an “electrician of the heart.” He joined Trident Medical Center in January 2012 as its first full-time electrophysiologist. During his first two years with Charleston Heart Specialists, he has helped hundreds of patients with issues such as irregular heartbeat and heart failure. He believed that Green could be helped with a biventricular pacemaker-defibrillator.  “What she had was a device that is basically an insurance policy,” says Dr. Sidney.  The newer device that he installed, also referred to as cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), had the potential to improve her quality of life by restoring synchrony so both sides of the heart beat at the same time. “We're just trying to recreate the body's natural physiology.” Once Dr. Sidney did the procedure at the hospital's EP lab, Green noticed an immediate difference in how she felt and what she was capable of physically. Before, she worried about making it up stairs, and while on a cruise, she struggled to get up the gangplanks to the ship. After the upgrade, she went on another cruise in the spring of 2013, and she ran up the ramps and swam without worry. She no longer gets out of breath easily, and is sleeping much better, too. Plus, tests show her heart pumps blood much more effectively than it had before the procedure, which will help her heart in the long run. She credits Dr. Sidney for the turnaround as well as the time and attention he devoted to her care.

“You go to bed and wonder are you going to wake up the next morning,” she says, remembering the anxiety she once felt about her heart. “And now, I don't even think about it.” For more information on Charleston Heart Specialists, please call 843-576-0700. Call out: “You go to bed and wonder are you going to wake up the next morning.” –Suzie Green

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