Have you ever felt your heart skip a beat?
Some of us might associate a heart fluttering feeling with positive emotions like excitement or even love. But for people living with heart rhythm disorders like atrial fibrillation (AF), it’s usually cause for serious concern.
Atrial fibrillation is now a more common cause of hospital admission in Australia than heart attacks, with 1 in 4 of us experiencing it during our lifetimes. It can be devastating for patients and their families.
Danny and his wife Sandy
Families like that of Danny and his wife Sandy, who were shocked by a diagnosis in 2018.
Danny had always been health conscious. He kept active in his job, took the blood pressure medication and blood thinner he was prescribed, and even took it upon himself to monitor his blood pressure and blood glucose levels with an at-home digital monitor.
Danny says, “One day I hooked myself up to the device and turned it on, and it came up with an alert saying I had an irregular heartbeat.”
Understandably concerned, Danny went to see his doctor and was referred to a cardiologist for further testing.
Danny and Sandy carried on with life in the meantime, following one of their greatest passions – travelling.
They flew to Europe for a holiday and visited their family in Italy, completely unaware of the risks to Danny’s heart and life.
Shortly after returning from holiday, the cardiologist instructed Danny to wear a heart monitor for four days.
Danny returned the monitor and within hours, he and Sandy were called back for an urgent review.
Danny says, “I’ll never forget the words the doctor said to me that night.”
You’re a very sick man. Your heart attempted to stop several times over the last few days. You’re not going home tonight. There’s a bed waiting for you at the hospital.
After driving Danny straight to the hospital, Sandy drove home alone to collect some of his things.
Sandy says, “I was in a complete state of shock. I felt numb. I just couldn’t believe what I was being told and I kept thinking the doctor must have the wrong person.”
“I tried my best to stay strong for Danny, but as soon as I got into the car, I burst into tears and cried all the way home. I was so scared of losing him,” says Sandy.
Thankfully, the cardioversion successfully restored Danny’s heart to a regular rhythm by stopping and restarting his heart, saving his life.
Although the recovery from his cardioversion was long and frustrating, Danny counts himself lucky that his AF was discovered in time so he can continue enjoying life with Sandy, his three sons and grandkids.
Now, Danny’s back to full time work and spending as much time as he can working away in his shed on his pride and joy – his 1942 Ford Jailbar.
His heart function has completely normalised, and his doctors are extremely happy with the improvements he’s made to his health.
There’s no guarantee that Danny won’t have further heart concerns down the track, but thanks to his doctors and research, he’s in a much better position to face any future challenges.
Our Atrial Fibrillation Research
AF can cause palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain and dizzy spells, as well as putting us at higher risk of stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, dementia and premature death.
Preventing AF from developing will save thousands of people from suffering these debilitating and life-threatening symptoms.
A/Prof Chris Wong is fighting to beat heart disease!
Associate Professor Chris Wong and his team are investigating a new medication as a potential treatment for AF’s three common risk factors: high blood pressure, excess weight and diabetes.
Their research is unique because all existing medications used specifically for AF only manage symptoms or complications, whereas this drug aims to treat the cause and enables a focus on prevention in the first place.
This new medication shows great potential to prevent AF. This vital research will bring hope to the many Australians living with, or at risk of heart rhythm disorders.
Thank you for your support in the fight to beat heart disease!