Keeping up, at last

CMC care allows A-Fib patient to see the world

Published 2/27/2023

Dorothy Anderson clearly remembers one detail from her drive to the CMC Emergency Department—one for which she is forever grateful. 

“There are 11 traffic lights between my house and CMC,” she notes. “Ten of them were green along the way.”
It was a Sunday morning and she was headed in because of an A-Fib episode. 

“I went into the ED and a friend of mine was a triage nurse. She sat me down and asked, ‘what brings you here.’ I said, ‘I don’t feel…’ and that’s the last thing I remember.”

The ED team used cardioversion—short electrical pulses—to restore Dorothy’s heart to normal rhythm, but she knew, “that’s when we needed to get serious.” 

The medications Dorothy was using to manage her A-Fib weren’t working. Another episode like the one she had in the ED could end much differently. So Dorothy met with Jamie Kim, MD, FACC, director of cardiac electrophysiology at CMC’s New England Heart & Vascular Institute. 

“Dr. Kim did an ablation on me and hit every trigger point I had. Since that procedure, I’m thanking Dr. Kim and I’m thanking God because I haven’t had any shortness of breath and I haven’t collapsed. It’s absolutely amazing.”

A-Fib occurs when the electrical signals that control heart rhythm go haywire, causing an irregular and often rapid heartbeat. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, fatigue, and palpitations. In Dorothy’s case, she often felt like she was going to collapse. 

This condition is most frequently managed with medication, but can be successfully treated with a procedure called ablation—using cold or heat energy to scar the surface of the heart and interrupt the abnormal electrical signals. The procedure meant Dorothy could travel again without worry. 

“I just got back from Egypt and Israel. If it hadn’t been for this procedure, I couldn’t have done all the walking that was required of us. Before, I would be the last one in the group and someone always had to wait for me to catch up. This time, we did seven miles on one day and I kept up for the first time since I can’t remember when.”

Dorothy recommends Dr. Kim and CMC to “everybody,” and appreciates the personal attention and care she always receives. 

“All the doctors take the time to listen. You don’t feel like you’re being rushed through. You’re given the time to express yourself and understand what’s going on.”