Angie’s Arrhythmiaby Jim

9 Jan 2020
10:01 am

While we’re waiting for our next update, I thought I would catch people up on why we’re here today and what they’re going to be doing in the procedure. Angie’s health has been very good for the last few years. Her activity level is considerably high and she’s been feeling well. Unfortunately, over the last couple years she’s been having some arrhythmia. Half of her heart is paced by her pacemaker, but the other half beats on its own. That other part has been getting into bad rhythms that can be bad over long periods of time. When she’s experiencing arrhythmia, she usually can’t tell it is happening at all. She’ll usually just feel a little funny, and be easily exhausted with any exertion. They’re also worried about her general heart function, which is weakened while in and because of arrhythmia. They tried switching one of her medications to something stronger about and a half ago, but that didn’t fix the problem.

And that’s why we’re here today: to fix the arrhythmia. For today’s procedure, they’re first doing a transesophageal echo (TEE) to check for blood clots. For the TEE, they sedate her and put a scope down her throat and check her heart for blood clots. If they find anything, they’ll abort because the risk of breaking loose a clot while they’re in her heart is too high. If the TEE doesn’t find anything, then they’ll proceed with the rest of the procedure. They go in though the arteries in her leg and send another scope up into her heart. Because she has had a Fontan procedure her heart anatomy is a little different and they have to cut through the Gore-tex tubing (connected to her heart as part of the Fontan) to get into the chambers of her heart. From the inside of her heart, they will actually map out the electrical impulses and conductivity of her heart. This process is slow and meticulous. They get a very complete picture of her heart’s electrical characteristics before they try to fix anything. Angie’s anti-arrhythmia medication (the stronger one they put her on 18 months ago) was discontinued Sunday night so that they can (hopefully) catch some arrhythmia while they’re scoping out her heart. That way they can pinpoint the exact location to scar her heart to inhibit the arrhythmia locally. They use the map of her heart to measure how effective their scarring is and whether they’ve actually fixed it. The catheter can burn or freeze the heart tissue and they use both under different circumstances. They’ll probably do some of each in today’s procedure.

They’ve taken all the precautions necessary to have a very safe procedure. There are always risks of complications, but compared to other procedures Angie has had, this one will be easy. The bigger issue is whether this will help. This is the last thing they want to try before moving forward with getting on the transplant list, which we’d love to delay as long as possible. We know it is an eventuality, but we’re not in a hurry to be in that position just yet. So, here’s hoping for the best!

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  1. Rebecca J. Carlson
    11:22 AM on January 9th, 2020

    We love you so much! We are so proud of you and of Angie for how much you’ve both done to take care of Angie’s beautiful heart! Our thoughts and prayers are with you all day today.

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