Tag Archives: Lexington Medical Heart Center

Listen to Your Symptoms: Shortness of Breath Leads to Open Heart Surgery

Karen Rainwater loves spending time with her grandchildren. But a few months ago, a simple visit to see them created cause for concern.

She was reading a story to 5-year-old Sam and 2-year-old Mallie in December when her daughter noticed she was really short of breath.
Karen knew something wasn’t right. In fact, she’d been really tired and short of breath for about a month.

So she made an appointment to see Brandon C. Drafts, MD, FACC, a cardiologist with Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice.

Karen Rainwater reading with her grandchildren in West Columbia

After listening to Karen’s heart with a stethoscope for a few seconds, Dr. Drafts told her there was a problem.

“She had a prominent heart murmur that sounded like it could be a potentially severe mitral valve disorder,” Dr. Drafts said. “An echocardiogram showed severe mitral valve regurgitation. That occurs when the mitral valve leaflets don’t close correctly and cause blood to go backwards in the heart, leading to fluid build up in the lungs.”

Further testing showed that a cord, which holds one of the mitral valve leaflets in place, had ruptured.

In Karen’s case, a defect in the valve structure was to blame. In other cases, heart attacks or chronically weak and dilated heart muscle can cause mitral valve regurgitation.

The news surprised Karen. At 62, with a busy life, three grown children and three grandchildren, she had never had heart problems before or had a doctor tell her that her heart didn’t sound right.

Dr. Drafts consulted Jeffrey A. Travis, MD, of Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice.

“Because of the the cord tearing, Karen had congestive heart failure and would not get better without surgery,” Dr. Travis said.

Dr. Brandon Drafts

Within a few days of testing, Karen was staring down heart surgery during the holidays.

“I was absolutely shocked and asked Dr. Travis how long I’d be in the hospital,” she said. “He told me, ‘About a week, plus four to six weeks in recovery.’” I told him, ‘I don’t have time!’ It was less than two weeks until Christmas.”

But Dr. Drafts and Dr. Travis wanted to coordinate her care quickly. She received her diagnosis on Wednesday and had open heart surgery the following Monday.

“The heart undergoes changes when a valve fails, and the quicker you fix it, the less likely the changes will be permanent,” Dr. Travis said. “That’s why it’s important to listen to your body, and if you notice changes, seek medical attention.”

Karen had open heart surgery at Lexington Medical Center on December 18 and went home on Christmas Eve.

Dr. Jeffrey Travis

Her long-term prognosis is excellent.

“The quick coordination of care allowed Karen to get relief from her symptoms sooner and avoid any potential complications from congestive heart failure,” Dr. Drafts said. “I don’t think Karen initially realized how sick she was before surgery, but she feels significantly better now.”

Karen felt confident and at peace with all the care she received at Lexington Medical Center.

“While there have been some normal hurdles, recovery has been great,” she said. “Every day I can do something more than I did the day before.”

That includes more story time with the grandkids.

Outrunning Heart Disease: A Lesson in Fainting, Family and Faith

Diane McNinch loves to run. She routinely logs more than 20 miles a week around Columbia.

“When I’m running, I leave my stress behind, pray and spend time with friends,” she said. “It’s not only my fitness; it’s my therapy.”

Diane McNinch on her favorite running trail in West Columbia

But there was a time when the 51 year old was afraid she wouldn’t be able to run anymore.

“I have a history of fainting,” Diane said.

Over the years, she fainted while pregnant with her daughter, when singing in church, and after having hip surgery. There was never a definitive reason why.

That’s until she went to an annual checkup with her primary care physician. Results of an EKG showed something was wrong with her heart’s electrical activity.

Diane’s doctor referred her to Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, for a full workup.

At Lexington Cardiology, Diane received a diagnosis of Long QT Syndrome, a condition where the muscle cells of the heart take an abnormally long time to “recharge.” Untreated, LQTS can increase the risk for a life-threatening arrhythmia.

“While many patients with LQTS don’t have any symptoms, others experience palpitations, lightheadedness, loss of consciousness, seizures or even cardiac arrest,” said William W. Brabham, MD, FHRS, an electrophysiologist with Lexington Cardiology.

Doctors treat LQTS with medications called beta blockers or by implanting a defibrillator. Treatment decisions are individualized based on many factors.

Dr. Brabham implanted a defibrillator in Diane’s side.

“It’s like an insurance policy,” Diane said. “If something goes wrong, the defibrillator will go off and I’ll be OK. I’m so thankful for this technology.”

LQTS can be acquired through certain medications that inhibit electrolyte movement. It can also be inherited from a parent or occur spontaneously without family history.

Diane learned her case was genetic. So, she shared the news with her family.

Family Ties

Diane, her brother and sister were screened for LQTS. Her sister tested positive. Her brother is waiting for his results. Diane’s two children – in their 20s – will be tested, too.

Diane had an infant brother who died unexpectedly in the 1960s. She now wonders if he had the condition. Both of her parents also passed away after a history of heart problems.

“Many people have no symptoms, no family history of heart problems and may never know they have the condition,” Dr. Brabham said. “Others my have a family history of sudden cardiac death or worrisome symptoms. They should see their doctor.”

Using her own experience to help others, Diane stressed the importance of developing a relationship with your physician and knowing your family history.

“I’m thankful our heart condition was found. Now that we know we have it, we can treat it,” she said.

On the Road Again
After having the defibrillator implanted, Diane took some time off from running. But doctors permitted her to work her way back into it gradually.

She ran the Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler in honor of her parents and their heart history.

She also joined a group called “Run for God,” a faith and endurance program.

“’Run for God’ not only helped me with running, but it also taught me how to work through adversity,” she said. “I plan to persevere and make the best of my situation.”

“Just Say Know” to High Blood Pressure with USC Basketball Coach Frank Martin

University of South Carolina men’s basketball coach Frank Martin takes center court in Lexington Medical Center’s heart health campaign this month.

In a series of three television spots, Coach Martin appears at a news conference answering questions about heart disease.

“Heart disease is the #1 killer of men and women in South Carolina,” said Mark Shelley, vice president of Marketing and Communications at Lexington Medical Center. “We hope that the commercials attract attention and encourage community members to see their doctor and make heart health a priority.”

In the commercials, the coach speaks with the same intensity and straightforward attitude for which he’s famous.

“In every walk of life we need a coach. Go see your doctor. That’s your coach,” Coach Martin said.

Lexington Medical Center wants community members to “Just Say Know” to heart disease. Practicing healthy habits and knowing blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride numbers can lower the risk of heart disease.

Watch the series below and look for the commercials with Frank Martin throughout February and March during television programming.