Posts in: Heart Health

Karla Manley

Posted in: Heart Health // 575 Comments

Heart-felt story

By Paula Huffingham-Suhey

Imagine preparing for sinus surgery, but then finding out you have a heart defect. That’s what happened to Karla Manley, 33, when she, after undergoing the ‘normal’ pre-op tests, was found to have a congenital defect that had gone undetected previously. The two chambers of her heart were transposed.

“I was told that I would need a heart transplant,” she said. “I was shocked. I’ve never experienced any symptoms,” said Manley. “I wasn’t the fastest kid as far as physical endurance, but I never had the idea anything was wrong.”

What doctors discovered in 2003 was that she had TGV (transposition of the great vessel), which changes the way the blood circulates through the body resulting in a shortage of oxygen.

Miraculously, almost ten years later, she hasn’t needed a transplant – and may never need one – thanks to a procedure done at Mayo Clinic where Karla has worked since coming to this area from St. Louis in 1999.

Karla’s care has been orchestrated by a team of two cardiologists, Daniel Yip, M.D., and Naser Ammash, M.D., and a cardiovascular surgeon Joseph Dearani, M.D., who implanted a mechanical heart valve and repaired an atrial septal defect in May 2012.

“Your heart is the engine that runs your whole body,” Manley said. “If this engine is damaged in any way, it affects all your other systems in some way. It’s so important to keep this engine fine-tuned – maintaining a regular exercise routine, eating well-balanced meals and avoiding stress at all cost – so we can live the life we want to live.”

Manley walked in the 2012 Heart Walk with her miniature schnauzer, Gidget, and looks forward to some of her family joining her for the 2013 walk.

“I believe that things happen for a reason. That there is a plan for our lives. Certainly my moving to Jacksonville and working for the Mayo Clinic here was one of those things. I’m very grateful,” she said.
Photo courtesy of

Bruce Hamilton

Posted in: Heart Health // 829 Comments

By Paula Huffingham- Suhey

Bruce Hamilton, morning news anchor at WJXT Channel 4, has reported on health issues, particularly those related to matters of the heart, throughout his 35 year career. He has been the one looking for a story, the one asking the questions, but not this time.

This time, the story is about him.

“I really don’t like to go to the doctor, but I had this nagging pain in my left arm that wouldn’t go away,” said Hamilton. “And I knew that both [my] grandfathers had passed away in their 60’s because of heart problems and my father has a stint,” he continued.

He went to see a friend [who is a cardiologist] who convinced him that it was time for an echocardiogram and a nuclear stress test. The results were somewhat suspicious, but Hamilton was not concerned. However, the doctor ordered a heart catheterization.

“I suffered an 80% blockage in the main heart artery they call, ‘The Widow-maker.’ It’s known in the medical world as the left anterior descending coronary artery,” he said.

While implanting a stent, there were some complications and Hamilton essentially “crashed”.

He said he remembers reaching down to touch the cold metal of the gurney to ensure that he was alive.

“I thought I might be dying,” he said, “but I was still a journalist, so I kept asking questions. I wanted to know what they were doing. I also knew I wanted to live.”

Hamilton said that this has been an eye opening experience that has given him an opportunity to rethink his priorities along with a deep appreciation for the medical profession.

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Heart Surgery Excels at Memorial Hospital

Posted in: Heart Health, Preventative Health // 1185 Comments

Memorial Hospital Awarded highest rating of 3-Stars!

After an analysis of national data from all of 2012, The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) awarded Memorial Hospital its highest possible rating of 3-Stars. To put that in perspective, this score is earned by only about 15% of all eligible hospitals.

STS has established a comprehensive rating system that compares the quality of heart surgery among hospitals across the county by using a combination of 11 measures of quality. Medical professionals widely regard the rating as the gold standard by which to evaluate heart surgery programs.

“The STS Database is the oldest and most established registry measuring quality in healthcare,” said Dr. Vasant Jayasankar of Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgical Associates, and the medical director of Cardiovascular Surgical Services at Memorial Hospital. “Patients needing heart surgery should ask their surgeon and the hospital if they participate in the STS database and what their results are.”

“The rating reflected in the STS data is the result of a team effort,” said Bobby McCullough, Memorial Hospital’s Chief Operating Officer.

“Everyone involved in patient care – the cardiovascular team in the OR, the intensive care unit and other nursing units, the cardiac catheterization lab, the Memorial medical staff, the blood bank – all are part of the team that provides quality outcomes.”

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