April’s Life-Changing Diagnosis & Procedure
April Lester, 35 from Villa Park, IL, thought she’d have to live with chest pain her whole life. She experienced it for two years; it started when she began dialysis and was put on medication. She told her primary care and dialysis techs about the pain in her chest and was told it was just a murmur. But, she was never referred to a cardiologist. She even visited the emergency room for chest pain and a tight sensation in her left chest. She had bloodwork done and a couple of tests, but she was discharged home.
Her pain continued daily, and she finally decided that something had to give. “I googled cardiologists near me,” she said. And that’s how she came to meet Dr. Elmer Murdock, interventional cardiologist at Midwest Cardiovascular Institute (MCI). She first saw him on September 9, when he ordered an echocardiogram and other tests that showed she had a dilated ascending aorta and dissection. A dissection is a tear in the large blood vessel branching off of the heart (aorta). Hers was from her heart down to her leg. She was told surgery was needed.
“April had recurrent chest pain without a clear diagnosis,” said Dr. Murdock. “It’s important to know that if you are having chest pain, or any symptoms that are new, it’s okay to seek a second opinion. There’s also a reason why high blood pressure is called a silent killer.”
“Before finding MCI, I didn’t have the clear answers I needed,” she said. Though she was nervous, she finally had a diagnosis, and she hoped that this could be her breakthrough. “Everyone at MCI, the nurses, and the doctors were very understanding and caring.” As soon as Dr. Murdock received her test results back, he sent her to Cardiac Surgery Associates for surgery.
The procedure April had was an aortic root and arch replacement. “It was a life-saving procedure for her,” said Aaron Kime, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon with Cardiac Surgery Associates, who performed the procedure. “A type A aortic dissection is a nearly universally fatal event if left untreated due to the risk of aortic rupture, acute aortic insufficiency, or disruption of a coronary artery. The procedure we did has protected her from any of those events.” The procedure took about six hours.
Just a few short weeks after her procedure, April can’t believe the results. She can now live without the daily pain in her chest. She is recovering and participating in cardiac rehabilitation. “I am back to feeling like a normal person!” she exclaimed. She is so happy that she chose to listen to her symptoms and pursue a visit with a cardiologist at MCI. “Now, I have become more grateful for life. I get emotional talking about it. MCI, Dr. Murdock, and Dr. Kime are the best! Words cannot express how grateful I am for the whole team.”
The collaboration between Midwest Cardiovascular Institute and Cardiac Surgery Associates is a valuable partnership that benefits the patients we serve. By working closely together, we are able to ensure that patients receive the highest quality of care and the most appropriate treatment for their specific needs. This close collaboration allows for seamless communication and coordination between all of the medical professionals involved in a patient’s care, which can lead to better outcomes and more efficient and effective care.