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Share Your Story: Renee Stringer

by Christy D. on Monday, March 10, 2014

Renee Stringer Iowa

My heart issues became apparent in 2002 when I was having episodes where my heart would race to the point where my body would cough excessively until my heart would resume to normal. The episodes had been occurring for a couple of years, however I didn’t worry about them until the recurrences increased dramatically, sometimes multiple times a week and lasting anywhere from 5 seconds to 45 minutes.
Seeking medical attention for this problem started my journey of heart issues and discovering that I had some birth defects that I had no idea existed. During my cardiac work up they found that I had an extra electronic pathway, a bicuspid aortic valve and the early stages of an aneurysm developing in my aortic ascending arch next to my heart. My faith in God gave me the strength to handle the diagnosis. In January 2003 I underwent an ablation to burn the heart muscle where the extra electricity was being sent.  This procedure kept my heart from racing and was successful but still continued to have my heart monitored.
In 2009 I developed issues of chest discomfort and shortness of breath and overall just not feeling well. Further testing showed that my right coronary artery was not in the correct place, called an anomalous artery.  It was felt at that time that the aneurysm was pressing on my coronary artery causing me to have the symptoms similar to that of a heart attack without actually having a heart attack. The doctors were able to control the pressure through medication.  My family and I continued to trust God to take care of my heart and to help us deal with the emotional stress.
My heart conditions are genetic and I inherited them from my dad. On November 22, 2010, my dad underwent bypass surgery with the plan to include repair/replacement of his aortic artery for his aneurysm. He did not survive the surgery. In December of 2011 I went through 2 days of testing and doctor’s appointments. The doctors at Mayo Clinic agreed that my right coronary artery was being compressed by my aneurysm and that I needed to have surgery to correct this problem. If not corrected I would have a heart attack that I wouldn’t survive.
I was scheduled for surgery on January 6, 2012, at Mayo Clinic to replace my heart valve and replace the aneurysm section of my aortic artery. On January 5, 2012, I underwent a pre-surgery angiogram with an unusual result. The doctors did not find anything wrong with my right coronary artery like originally thought.  Another scan proved that my right coronary artery was indeed in the proper place. They told us they have no medical explanation; however my family and I know that the Great Physician corrected the problem. I was sent home and continue to have Mayo Clinic monitor my aneurysm.
I live my life as normal as possible with the support of my family. I’m thankful for the medical advances that God allows so that we can seek treatment for our health concerns. I look forward to American Heart Association continuing their progress in developing new surgical techniques to improve the effects on a patient when they undergo major heart surgery and also for the development of ways to monitor your health so that a person can do their part in trying to maintain a healthy life. If or when I might have surgery for my remaining heart issues I want the doctors to have the best medical advances available.