Tracy Tvedte of North Liberty, Iowa, was skeptical about his cardiac consultation last fall. Six years after an aortic dissection, he was still searching for a way to end the blackouts and irregular heartbeat episodes that had affected his quality of life.
Everything began to change during Tracy’s meeting with David Hamon, MD, cardiac electrophysiologist at UI Heart and Vascular Center, who convinced him to have a loop recorder and then a pacemaker implanted. Today, Tracy, 67, feels like a new man.
“I’m feeling fantastic,” Tracy says. “Before [the loop recorder and pacemaker procedures], I was always concerned and wondering if I would wake up with my heart racing. I don’t have any of those thoughts anymore. I believe Dr. Hamon saved my life. He has given me an awesome quality of life. If he said I had to do something else, either with medicine or surgery-wise, I would believe in him and listen to him.”
A life of uncertainty
Tracy could feel his control over his life steadily slipping away before he crossed paths with Hamon. About a year after his aortic dissection, he started experiencing a series of blackouts. On one occasion, he lost consciousness in the shower and broke three ribs when he fell.
“I pretty much did every test you can possibly do, and sometimes more than once or twice,” he says. “I had stress tests, MRIs, EKGs. Nobody was able to pinpoint anything that would cause this.”
Tracy’s condition worsened this past October when he noticed that his heart would periodically race, going as fast as 155 beats per minute, he says. At that point, he was referred to Hamon.
A light at the end of the tunnel
Hamon quickly formulated an action plan, suggesting the implantation of a loop recorder, which would monitor his heart rhythm and enabled his care team to remotely check his heartbeat through a mobile app. The readings from the loop recorder indicated a pacemaker should be implanted to maintain a stable heart rate.
“I believed in Dr. Hamon and trusted him because he was the first one who said, ‘Let’s put in the loop recorder,’” Tracy says. “He was the first one who said, ‘You have an irregular heart rate.’”
That trust, however, was hard won, partially because of Tracy’s previous treatment outcomes elsewhere.
“I argued with him,” says Tracy, whose pacemaker was implanted in early December. “I said, ‘Are you sure this is what needs to take place?’”
“I think we have the best available options to treat any kind of patient. We have the resources to choose whatever we feel is needed. Tracy had some unfortunate experiences with the medical world, so we really had to convince him and explain to him why he had to proceed with the treatment plan. He was asking a lot of questions. I actually like that. He wanted to understand everything and make sure it was necessary for him. After I explained everything to him, he decided to move forward,” explains Hamon.
Living life on his own terms
Today, Tracy is moving forward in a way that didn’t seem possible just six months ago.
“I want a quality of life,” he says. “At some point, you have to decide, ‘I can be 90 years old and have dementia and have all this medical work done to me and not even know who I am. Or I can live my life and enjoy it as much as I can and go from there.’ Dr. Hamon is the kind of guy who has gotten me to that point.”
With his newfound health and peace of mind, Tracy even began planning a fishing trip to Canada.