Living with Heart Failure
It all started in October for John Dallum, with stomach pain. The pain was serious enough that he thought he had pancreatitis and went to an urgent care facility to get checked out. They, however, thought it might be something more and recommended that John go to Lutheran Medical Center’s Emergency Department.
“I almost just blew if off,” John says now. “It’s a good thing I didn’t.” Tests at Lutheran revealed that John, age 59, had blood clots in his spleen and one of his kidneys. And that in fact he was likely in heart failure, with four of his arteries more than 90 percent blocked.
Symptoms of congestive heart disease, which affects about 5 million Americans, can be mild or severe and can include shortness of breath, fluid retention, and rapid or irregular heartbeats, along with dizziness, fatigue, and weakness.
“I really didn’t have any symptoms of heart problems,” John added. “Looking back, I can see that even though I wasn’t having pain before, I had been tired all the time. Because my heart was working so hard, I was throwing blood clots.”
John’s heart needed time and medication to build up enough strength to undergo the surgery he needed to clear his arteries. In early January, he was admitted to Lutheran for a quadruple bypass operation.
“I was up and walking the next day,” he says. He spent one week in the hospital and had to return once to be treated for fluid retention and breathing problems.
Today, John is working hard to regain his strength three times per week in Lutheran’s Cardiac Rehabilitation program, where he exercises and learns more about his condition and how to manage it.
“The hospital staff have been extremely good to me, and the cardiac rehab team takes good care of me,” John says. “What brought me to Lutheran was pretty unusual, and I was the talk of the ER for a while. I know I’ve been very lucky in a lot of ways.”