Sandi Skaluba - Alpena, MI
"If my numbers are too high, the doctors will call and tell me to adjust my medication. If they don’t call me within a half hour, I know I’m okay.” “It’s a comfort knowing you’re that close to your doctor."
Advanced Monitoring System Provides Peace of Mind
Trips to the hospital became a weekly experience for 76-year-old Sandi Skaluba. She thought the shortness of breath and weekly trips to the Emergency Room were just part of the aging process. The quickly worsening symptoms were actually signs of a more serious problem – congestive heart failure.
Several weeks after first having trouble breathing, Skaluba had a heart attack. After she was stabilized, Skaluba was transported to MyMichigan Medical Center Midland where she underwent quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery.
Following surgery, she returned to Alpena, where she followed up with her Cardiologist Sanjeev Arora, M.D., and managed her heart failure through the office’s Heart Failure Clinic. After experiencing continued health problems, Heart Failure Nurse Practitioner Fawn L. Munro, M.S.N., W.H.N.P.-B.C., recommended the CardioMEMS™ HF System.
This advanced monitoring system is made for people like Skaluba with congestive heart failure – a chronic condition that affects the heart’s ability to pump blood. The system consists of a small sensor device that is implanted in the pulmonary artery (the blood vessel that moves blood from the heart to the lungs) that measures blood pressure and heart rate. The device takes daily pressure readings and wirelessly transmits the data to the Heart Failure Clinic.
“If my numbers are too high, the doctors will call and tell me to take a half or a whole dose of a medication I’m on. If they don’t call me within a half hour, I know I’m okay,” Skaluba explained. “It’s a comfort knowing you’re that close to your doctor.”
In addition to recording her daily “numbers” as she calls it, Skaluba made a few other lifestyle changes to improve her heart health. She limits her fluid intake to 64 oz. per day, buys low-sodium products and participates in cardiac rehab, a program to help heart patients regain their strength, improve their mental well-being and reduce their risk of future heart problems.
“I go to cardiac rehab twice a week for two hours at MyMichigan Medical Center Alpena,” she said. The staff there should be commended. They’re amazing!”
Since getting the CardioMEMS System, Skaluba no longer experiences shortness of breath and she rarely has unexpected visits to the Emergency Room. She also feels a greater sense of independence.
“Before getting the CardioMEMS, I was afraid to go very far. I didn’t like to go shopping by myself because I was afraid it would trigger a heart attack,” she said. “Now, I don’t have that fear. In the morning when I do my numbers and they’re okay, I know I’m fine and I can go do what I want. It gives me freedom.”
MyMichigan Health offers a full array of heart and vascular services, including open heart surgery, vascular surgery, electrophysiology for heart rhythm problems and advanced interventional procedures. For additional information about heart failure or MyMichigan’s Heart Failure Clinic, visit www.mymichigan.org/heartfailure.