Atrial fibrillation isn't something Mike could have predicted, but he is glad he found quality care at St. Mark's Hospital.
Take me to The Heart Center at St. Mark’s: They care about your long-term quality of life
Ever had the hiccups? Ever had hiccups last for hours? Mike Malay, of Eagle Mountain, drank a cold liquid and a strange hiccup occurred — but it involved his heart.
“The cool drink activated it. My heart rate went very high — almost 200 beats per minute — and I could feel my heart fluttering. It was abnormal and it wouldn’t stop. I’ve had a heart palpitation before, but never anything like this,” Mike said.
Mike’s racing heart caused light-headedness and made it difficult to breathe. His daughter took him to urgent care, where providers explained that Mike’s heart was in atrial fibrillation (a-fib for short).
Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heart rhythm that commonly causes poor blood flow. Untreated, a-fib can continue for hours, days, weeks, and even years. While the condition may appear with no symptoms, it can also cause shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, weakness, confusion, and fluttery feelings in the chest. A-fib can shorten life expectancy, as it increases the risks of blood clots, heart attacks, heart failure, and strokes.
After the urgent care team identified Mike’s a-fib, they transferred him to the Emergency Room at St. Mark’s Hospital, where doctors performed electrical cardioversion, using controlled electric shock through paddles to restore a normal heart rhythm.
Finding a solution for stubborn a-fib
But that wasn’t the end of Mike’s a-fib. One time it returned when he ate ice cream. One time a bottle of cold water activated it. Once, cool water from a dispenser brought on the racing heart. No matter how it started, the a-fib felt strong and scary.
“They took time to explain what a-fib is, why it happens, how it happens, and that it can even impact people when they’re young and healthy. I’m a 50-year-old who eats clean, wakes up at 5:00am to lift weights, and enjoys fitness and the outdoors. My cholesterol is low, my weight is healthy, and my markers all look good.” Mike said.
After an evaluation, the Heart Center team determined Mike was a candidate for heart ablation, a procedure to terminate censors in the heart that misfired electrical pathways.
“I’ve had multiple surgeries throughout my life, but this was quite a concern because it’s my heart,” Mike said. “But it’s a miracle procedure that has been perfected since the 90s. Plus, I appreciated not only how professional the team was, but how kind and calming and courteous they were too. For example, Dr. John Day spoke with me before the procedure and made me feel important, like I was the only one having a procedure that day.”
Taking time to ensure lasting results and long-term quality of life
During the heart ablation’s recovery period, Mike’s heart fluttered in a-fib once more, but Mike knew just who to call.
“My wife and I had met with Sherry beforehand, and she had told us that she would be available every step in the process. Sherry has also had a-fib and now she was a nurse who specialized in it, so she knows what she’s doing. When I called Sherry, she responded right away,” Mike said.
Sherry walked Mike through steps to get through the a-fib flare, and then it didn’t show up again, until six months later.
“I had known from talking with Dr. Day that sometimes people need an ablation a couple of times. So, when the a-fib showed up again, I called Sherry and she told me to come to the Heart Center. They were all ready for me. They’ve always gotten me in on short notice to take care of me,” Mike said.
After evaluating Mike’s heart while in a-fib, the team scheduled a second heart ablation. The procedure went smoothly, and he has not suffered another bout of a-fib since.
Mike says his experience at the Heart Center not only produced a healthier heart and brought peace of mind, but it generated a deep sense of gratitude for the genuine kindness and compassion shown by team members like Sherry, Jared, and Dr. Day.
“I know this is their profession, but I also know they do it for a reason. It’s a personal mission for them, and I can feel that. I feel their care. I feel that they really want a good result for me and my family, and they want me to have the quality of life,” Mike said. “I say ‘Take me to the Heart Center at St. Mark’s’ because they care. In the Heart Center, your success and recovery are important to them. You are important to them.”