Tag Archives: Lexington Medical Heart Center

Finding the Right Beat: Pacemaker puts Blythewood Woman Back in the Cycling Seat

Sharon Sherbourne knew something wasn’t right. An avid cyclist and runner, she was training for a long-distance race when her legs felt heavy and her heart rate remained low even when she was exercising vigorously.

The 67 year old had begun an exercise routine about 15 years earlier, while she helped implement wellness programs as vice president of human resources at a Blythewood manufacturing plant. “I knew I had to walk the walk, so I started doing aerobics. A friend from church got me involved in the running community, so I started training for a 5K, and that morphed into doing an 8K.”

Sharon cycling in Blythewood

She eventually completed four full 26-mile marathons, along with numerous half-marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks. About 10 years ago, she added long-distance cycling to her workouts, but recently, she found herself out of breath climbing a flight of stairs. She made an appointment to see a doctor.

“My first cardiologist told me I was simply getting older and I probably didn’t need to be doing all that stuff,” Sharon said. “But I knew it was more than that. You know your own body.”

Then, she was referred to Lexington Cardiology and William W. Brabham, MD, FHRS, an electrophysiologist with Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice. Dr. Brabham specializes in the treatment of abnormal heart rhythms. He scheduled a treadmill stress test for Sharon.

“As her workload increased on the treadmill, her heart rate peaked in the 70s to 80s, which is very unusual for her age. At 67, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for her heart rate to reach the 150s to 160s, especially with the level of activity that she typically would participate in,” Dr. Brabham said.

He diagnosed her problem as chronotropic incompetence, which is the inability of the heart to increase its rate to a level that matches a person’s activity level, combined with AV block, a condition where the signals from the top chambers of the heart don’t make it to the bottom chambers.

“It appeared most likely a result of age-related changes in the conduction system of the heart,” he said. “Just the way the rest of your body ages, the conduction system in your heart can age to varying degrees.”

Dr. William Brabham, Lexington Cardiology

He recommended a pacemaker, a device that monitors heart rate and stimulates the heart if it drops below a pre-programmed rate. A dual-chamber pacemaker, the type Sharon has, also restores the connection between the top and bottom chambers of the heart.

Sharon’s pacemaker was implanted in March; by late June, she was training for a 100-mile bike ride.

“I feel fantastic. It had gotten to the point where, when I was walking up stairs at the house, I’d get to the top and I’d be completely out of breath. So I had my pacemaker implant on March 7, I came home March 8 and the very first thing I did was walk up the stairs to see if it had made a difference. It had.”

For Sharon, a mother of two, grandmother of six and great-grandmother of one, the experience drove home the importance of listening to her body and going the extra mile for answers.

“Age should not be the marker for anything. Your physical fitness level, what you enjoy doing, what you’re used to doing — that should be what drives your behavior and drives your medical practitioner’s response,” she said. “I felt that Dr. Brabham really understood that and worked with me to make all of it happen.”

Heart Disease Pop Quiz

When it comes to heart disease, how knowledgable are you? In this WIS-TV report, news anchor Dawndy Mercer-Plank asked community members in downtown Columbia questions about heart health. Then, Dr. Heather Currier, new cardiothoracic surgeon at Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery, provided answers.

Heart disease is the #1 killer of men and women in America. in fact, it kills more people than many forms of cancer combined. A recent study from the American Heart Association showed that approximately 46% of American adults have some form of heart disease. In South Carolina, the most common heart surgery is coronary artery bypass. And, as the population grows older, valve replacement is becoming more frequent, too.

Lexington Medical Center wants you to “Just Say Know” to heart disease. To test your heart health knowledge with a quiz, visit LexMed.com/Know.

Meet the Patients: Aortic Valve Replacement with The Sentinel

We’re pleased to bring you a blog series called “Meet the Patients.” We share the stories of Lexington Medical Center patients whose experiences will educate and inspire readers about the outstanding care provided throughout our hospital network and the importance of modern medicine.

Horace Bush loves living in the peaceful Aiken County countryside.

Horace Bush

His days include walks to the pasture where he and his wife of 65 years have cows.

But last year, the 100 yard walk from his house to the barn became nearly impossible for him.

“I couldn’t breathe,” Mr. Bush said. “I was completely out of breath.”

At nearly 90 years old, his doctor in Aiken sent him to Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice. Mr. Bush’s aortic valve was failing – and would need to be replaced.

TAVR

Robert Leonardi, MD, FACC, FSCAI, wanted to replace Mr. Bush’s aortic valve with transcatheter aortic valve replacement. Considered one of the most significant advancements in cardiology, this technology allows doctors to replace the aortic valve with a catheter instead of open heart surgery.

TAVR is for patients with severe aortic stenosis, a narrowed aortic valve that does not let blood flow efficiently. As the heart works harder to pump blood through the smaller opening in the valve, the heart eventually becomes weak.

The Sentinel placed in arteries above the heart

“Patients with severe aortic stenosis have a prognosis that’s worse that most metastatic cancers,” Dr. Leonardi said. “TAVR helps them feel better and gives patients a much better quality of life.”

Some patients undergoing TAVR are at a higher risk of having a stroke. Now, Lexington Medical Center doctors have a device called The Sentinel® to prevent that. The Sentinel is a basket that doctors place in arteries leading to the brain. It helps to prevent blood clots or plaque from going to the brain and causing a stroke during TAVR. The Sentinel is removed at the end of the procedure.

Mr. Bush was the first patient to have TAVR with The Sentinel at Lexington Medical Center. It was a complete success.

“I can never express my gratitude to the doctors,” he said. “Fixing my heart valve through a catheter is a new field – and I prefer what they did instead of having to go through open heart surgery.”

Notably, Lexington Medical Center performs almost all TAVR procedures in its cardiac catheterization labs while patients are awake. Doctors can talk to patients during the procedure and they typically go home from the hospital the next day.

That includes Mr. Bush.

Today, he’s back to walking to the pasture with ease – and no shortness of breath. And he said hospital staff treated him life family and provided unbelievable service.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it a 10+,” he said. “Those doctors are ‘outta sight.’”

For more information about Lexington Cardiology and Lexington Medical Heart Center’s structural heart program, visit LexMed.com.