Scared to Live: How you can give patients with chronic heart disease more control over their illness

Julie, with her husband Randy, who is also now a patient of Dr. Prakash Shah. Julie says she refers people all the time to Dr. Shah because of her confidence in his care.

“I was scared to live.”

Julie Glud’s harrowing heart journey all started when she was 35 years old. “I passed out in my kitchen. I saw so many doctors in different states. I just felt so sick but nobody knew what was wrong with me,” she shared.

Doctors finally discovered she has idiopathic cardiomyopathy, which is essentially an enlarged heart with an unknown cause. She had a pacemaker put in to help control her abnormal heart rhythms but that still didn’t solve her problems.

“I was so afraid with that pacemaker I had, no one knew how to set it,” Julie said.

Then, in Florida on a family vacation she had a horrible arrhythmia and nearly died. She was flown to Minnesota where doctors were able to set the pacemaker but the lingering cause was still there.

“I was scared to live. I had horrible anxiety. When I look back now, it was devastating. I was in constant heart failure,” she shared. That’s when Julie finally met Prakash Shah, MD, a cardiologist at Aurora Medical Center in Kenosha. At their very first visit, Julie says he changed her life.

“He knew I wouldn’t survive another arrhythmia with the medication I was on, and told me I needed a defibrillator. He said ‘I can take that fear away, Julie.’ And he did,” she shared.

Dr. Shah was right; within a year her pacemaker died and he was able to turn on the defibrillator and it saved her life. Now, two decades later, she’s on pacemaker number four and she’s had three defibrillators. Her heart disease isn’t going away, but she is reassured that she is finally in the right hands. She’s also able to do more in-home monitoring than ever before.

“It is well worth it if it can save me a trip to come in. And monitoring things myself makes me feel more safe and confident,” she explained. “And being confident about my health is a really big deal for me.”

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

That’s why this year’s Infinity Ball is fundraising to help patients, like Julie, with chronic heart disease. Dollars raised will help purchase CardioMEMS devices that enable patients to monitor their heart condition from the comforts of their own home. The device is a major opportunity for improving outcomes in chronic heart failure disease management. It gives patients the ability to monitor their daily status without the need to be in the clinic, and it enables them to transmit important data straight to the clinician’s office.

So join us on Saturday, October 14 at Festival Hall in Racine! The Infinity Ball is a black-tie optional event that will include a cocktail reception, dinner and silent auction. CLICK HERE to purchase a ticket, a table or to learn more.

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