Larry’s Story: His Comeback from Advanced Heart Failure

0

For 41-year-old Maysville resident Larry Myrick, the Florence Wormald Heart & Vascular Institute at St. Elizabeth has dramatically improved – and likely saved – his life.

In 2017, Larry was having difficulty breathing. His primary care physician diagnosed him with pneumonia, but Larry wasn’t convinced that was the source of his symptoms. The next day he saw a cardiologist in Maysville who told Larry life-changing news: he was in advanced heart failure.

“Everything happened pretty quickly,” says Larry. “I had a heart catheterization to see how my heart was working and was in the hospital for three days.”

According to the American Heart Association, more than six million Americans had heart failure in 2021. Heart failure symptoms can include:

· Appetite loss.

· Cough.

· Fatigue.

· Fluid buildup in ankles or legs, causing swelling.

· Shortness of breath while resting, walking or lying down.

· Nausea.

· Weakness.

· Weight gain.

There are four stages of heart failure, ranging from mild to advanced. Some patients can manage their heart failure with medicine, while others need a higher level of long-term support, such as an assistive device or a heart transplant.

Seven Strokes in One Year

On February 1, 2021, Larry had a stroke, followed by six additional strokes throughout the year. He had no idea what was causing them.

“The first stroke affected my walk and my speech,” says Larry. “I now use a cane and will continue until I can get my heart functioning better.”

Larry was a stroke care patient at UK Health, but after hearing about the Florence Wormald Heart & Vascular Institute at St. Elizabeth, he saw several specialists there and then was referred to Dr. Mario Castillo-Sang, St. Elizabeth Thoracic and Cardiac Surgeon. Dr. Castillo-Sang is a nationally recognized leader in minimally invasive heart valve surgery, and has placed the most LVAD heart support devices in the TriState area over the last six years.

Dr. Castillo-Sang discovered that Larry had a hole in his heart from an atrial septal defect, a congenital defect that typically closes soon after birth. But the hole didn’t close for Larry, which was a contributing factor for his repeated strokes.

“In Larry’s case, the hole in his heart, known as patent foramen ovale or PFO, allowed for small blood clots to pass through his heart and directly to his brain,” says Dr. Castillo-Sang. “A hole like that can put you at a higher risk for a stroke.”

On December 7, 2021, Larry underwent surgery at St. Elizabeth to close the hole in his heart and have a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) placed. The device increases cardiac circulation by pumping blood from the left heart ventricle into the body. As a result, the efficiently pumping heart can reduce heart failure symptoms such as labored breathing, water retention and fatigue.

“The LVAD has made a tremendous difference,” says Larry. “Before the LVAD, I had to sleep in my chair so I could breathe. Today, I can finally sleep in my bed – and I can even walk up the stairs to get there.”

LVAD Success Story

Larry credits the Heart and Vascular Institute team for going above and beyond to care for patients.

“The heart and vascular staff are the most wonderful people I’ve ever met,” says Larry. “On Christmas Eve, I had a problem with my LVAD driveline and one of the nurses drove all the way out to my house to deliver what I needed.”

Larry’s LVAD success is helping him enjoy each day as he continues his stroke recovery. In June 2022, Larry will have been on LVAD for six months, and Dr. Mario-Castillo and his team will evaluate his need for a heart transplant.

“I would definitely recommend St. Elizabeth,” says Larry. “The team is so helpful. They really care about getting you back to your regular life.”

The Florence Wormald Heart & Vascular Institute at St. Elizabeth

If you need advanced heart care, look no further than the Florence Wormald Heart & Vascular Institute at St. Elizabeth. Learn more or make an appointment with a heart failure specialist or call (859) 301-0124