Teen’s Story a Reminder to Evaluate Risk for Disease During Heart Awareness Month

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February is a month devoted to heart awareness and serves as a reminder for people to evaluate their risk of heart disease through screening. For Shane Mayer, February is a reminder of the close call he had with his own heart at the age of 19, and the lifesaving cardiac care he received at Northwest Community Hospital in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights.

For Shane Mayer, February is a reminder of the close call he had with his own heart at the age of 19, and the lifesaving cardiac care he received at Northwest Community Hospital in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights.

Regarding heart awareness, Dr. Lin said the three most important numbers for a person to know are his or her cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

At 19, Shane Mayer, was a picture of health, or so he thought during his regular workout in January 2009 at the Wellness Center on the Northwest Community Hospital campus in northwest suburban Arlington Heights.

But suddenly Mayer was overcome by panic. His pulse rate quickened, and kept increasing. Then came nausea and lightheadedness. By the time Shane made it home, he was staggering, vomiting and short of breath. His parents rushed him to the NCH Emergency Department, where he reached the point of needing defibrillation.

“Shane had idiopathic ventricular tachycardia,” said Dr. Albert Lin, an NCH cardiologist who specializes in Electrophysiology (EP), the science of diagnosing and treating electrical activities in the heart. “It’s an abnormal rhythm arriving from the bottom chambers of the heart. It’s pretty rare, and Shane’s heart was averaging 230 beats per minute.”

Since the average resting heart rate is in the range of 60 to 80 beats per minute, Mayer’s condition required immediate treatment. Dr. Lin ordered a catheter ablation, a minimally invasive procedure. To locate Mayer’s abnormal electrical activity, Dr. Lin used a special mapping system called CARTO, which creates a three-dimensional, rotatable view of the patient’s heart in real time.

In Mayer’s case, one treatment took care of the arrhythmic areas of his heart, effectively eliminating the condition. In fact, he was back to full activity, even taking a ski trip, 10 weeks after his close call.

“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States, and it affects people of all ages,” Dr. Lin said. “Heart awareness month serves as an important reminder for people to evaluate their risk of heart disease through screening.”

Regarding heart awareness, Dr. Lin said the three most important numbers for a person to know are his or her cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

Northwest Community Hospital offers screenings and educational seminars on heart awareness in February and throughout the year. For more information, visit the hospital online at nch.org/heart.

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Blaine Krage

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