In 2003 at the age of 63, Harold (Harry) Walsh began waking up in the middle of the night with his heart racing. It would slow down after five to ten minutes and he would go back to sleep. Harry attributed his periodic arrhythmia to age but over time he noticed that he just wasn’t feeling right most of the time.
Months later, Harry was hospitalized with congestive heart failure brought on by atrial fibrillation. For several months Harry’s fibrillation was managed with medication (Toprol). He then received a cardioversion which held his heart in normal rhythm for about eight months.
Unfortunately, while traveling in Europe on vacation in March 2005, Harry’s heart rate became erratic enough that he was admitted to the emergency room of an Amsterdam hospital and had another cardioversion. The Dutch cardiologists urged him to begin taking Sotalol, an anti-arrhythmic medication which his U.S. cardiologist then prescribed and which kept him in normal rhythm for about six months. Thereafter his heart went in and out of fibrillation and after several months the medication stopped working and he stayed in fibrillation. From 2003 to 2006 Harry had lived with a progressively worsening disease and was unable to participate in many of the activities he once enjoyed.
Then in April 2006, Harry and his wife were at a party where they talked with one of the guests, Patricia Seifert, who turned out to be the Education Coordinator at Inova Heart and Vascular Institute. She highly recommended that he consult with Dr. Niv Ad, who performs surgery for atrial fibrillation.
Harry refers to that day as one of the “luckiest days of my life” because his cardiologist was unfamiliar with Dr. Ad’s work and had told Harry that he should just learn to live with atrial fibrillation the rest of his life. Within the next three months Harry met with Dr. Ad and learned that his chances for being cured were excellent. In July Harry underwent the specialized surgery called the Maze Procedure, which Dr. Ad performed. Dr. Ad also performed a triple arterial bypass because, in the required tests before the surgery, he discovered that two of Harry’s main coronary arteries had major plaque buildup. After recovering from the surgery, Harry has lived a normal active life.
Harry attributes Dr. Ad, his colleagues at his office, and the team at the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute with giving him a “second life” where he once again has energy and can exercise and travel as he used to. With his health restored, he was especially grateful to be able to walk his daughter down the aisle at her recent wedding feeling like his old self.