Sinclair Cares: Congenital heart defects going undetected
While you've probably heard of babies born with holes in their hearts, did you know some of those congenital heart defects may go undetected until adulthood? We talked to a man who found this out the hard way, in a surprising twist.
In four years of marriage, Mike DiMaggio has gladly accepted the role of caregiver for his wife, Kelly.
"I was born with a complex congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, essentially means I was born missing the left side of my heart," said Kelly.
But recently, Mike went from Kelly's caregiver to the patient in a heartbeat, when he passed out at home after a minor surgical procedure.
"Mid-conversation I passed out for about 11 minutes," said Mike. "He was as white as a sheet, drenched cold sweat and I was hysterical," added Kelly.
An ER doctor ruled out stroke and cardiac arrest but told Mike to see a Cardiologist. So he made an appointment with Kelly's doctor, Stacy Fisher.
"On the ultrasound we were able to find a hole between the top two chambers of his heart which is called an atrial septal defect," said Dr. Fisher.
"I was stunned, absolutely beside myself," added Mike.
1 in 100 babies is born with a heart defect. Mike's is one of the more common defects, but it may never be detected in some people.
"The hole between the top two chambers of the heart can be very hard to hear, it's fairly silent. So often people don't find it until they have a problem with it," said Dr. Fisher.
The hole was damaging Mike's heart, so he had a catheter procedure to close it. Mike's recovering quickly and Dr. Fisher credits his 60-pound weight loss in recent years, and improvement to his diet and exercise regime, with dramatically improving his outcome.
"It made the risk of his procedure less, it made his recovery easier so he could get right back up and start walking," said Dr. Fisher.
The DiMaggio's made the lifestyle changes together to improve Kelly's health but it turns out those changes also became crucial to Mike's as well.
"Had that not happened, I don't think he would have been nearly as lucky as we were," added Dr. Fisher.
Dr. Fisher says warning signs of an atrial septal defect include shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and fluid retention on the legs or belly. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact a medical professional.