Angela's Cardiology Story
Careful study revealed need for artery dissection
With some heart conditions, patients have symptoms that don’t quite add up, making a diagnosis difficult.
This was the case for Angela, who had an annual checkup just three weeks prior to her heart event, where her bloodwork and exam revealed no issues. In the following weeks, she began to think that something wasn’t quite right, because she couldn’t take a shower without feeling tired.
“I was at work and thought I had heartburn. I went in the bathroom and I kind of sulked down to the floor. One of the girls came in the bathroom and she said, ‘You don't look well.’ She took me back to her office and had someone check my blood pressure. He looked at me and he said, ‘I don't want to alarm you, but I think you're having some type of cardiac event. I'm about to call the ambulance,’” said Angela.
When she arrived at the hospital, her family doctor, Ryan Frazine, MD, talked with her for 45 minutes and decided to admit her. After she was in her room, Michael Faulkner, MD, cardiology, came to see her and sent her for a stress test. During the test, she was in distress but nothing definitive was showing up. The technician stopped the test out of concern for Angela’s well-being.
“Dr. Faulkner talked to me for about an hour. He decided to do a heart cath. Before he left, he stood there and he said, ‘Do you mind if I pray with you all?’ When he walked out, Tony and I agreed this was the perfect person. He's going to figure out what's wrong,” said Angela.
She was awake during the heart cath and heard Dr. Faulkner say that everything looked good, but he wanted to take one more look. Then, she heard him say that he found it.
“Spontaneous coronary artery dissections sometimes are a little bit tricky to visualize. With Ms. Copeland's presentation, at first glance, the arteries looked okay. However, symptoms didn't support that, so we took a closer look at the arteries. After looking at this multiple times, we're able to find an area that didn't quite look right,” he said. “We stopped there, reviewed all the images, and then decided that's probably what this was and so we decided to make an attempt to try to open the vessel up.”
Dr. Faulkner and his team placed a balloon in her artery, which resolved the problem. “We have a great team of cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, administrators and nurses. Everybody involved in the patient's care, from the time they walk in the door to the time they exit the building, provide nothing but the best of care for our patients,” said Dr. Faulkner.
Angela, who is married with two active children, chokes up sometimes thinking about it, because she knows she could have died. “He found it and he has taken very good care of me ever since,” said Angela. “He really digs deep into what's going on and wants to know if there's anything he can do at any time, and his staff have been really great, too. That's the culture of Baptist Health Paducah.”