Jim Perry, Heart Failure Clinic Patient

Jim Perry - Sanford, MI

"In the hospital, they told me that 20 years ago, with the problems I had, I wouldn’t have been around, but now I have my second chance."

Heart Failure Clinic Gives Sanford Man a Second Chance

Jim Perry of Sanford has worked construction for decades and been healthy all his life. About a year ago, he noticed he was having some shortness of breath with normal activities and a decreased appetite. He thought the problem was acid reflux.

“Over a few months, I went from 175 pounds to about 135. My buddies told me I wasn’t looking great,” he said. Swelling in his legs finally sent Perry to his family doctor in Midland, Family Medicine Physician James Frye, M.D.

“Dr. Frye told me I had more than acid reflux, I had a heart problem and needed to go straight to the ER,” Perry said.

At MyMichigan Medical Center Midland, Perry was admitted and diagnosed with congestive heart failure. This condition results when the heart loses the ability to pump blood efficiently. As flow from the heart slows, blood backs up in the veins, and fluid builds up in tissues throughout the body.

Being sick was a new experience for Perry and he was scared. “When I first went into the hospital and found out I had heart trouble, my chin hit the ground,” he said. “I looked at my wife and shook my head. I thought I was going to be gone. All I did was pray.”

During a week in the hospital, tests showed that Perry’s arteries were clear and his lungs and kidneys were fine, but an electrical problem in his heart was disrupting his heartbeat. Electrophysiologist Nilofar Islam, M.D., explained the condition to Perry and performed a procedure to insert a specialized pacemaker to help his heart maintain its proper rhythm and to pump more efficiently. Perry also began taking medication to manage his heart’s rhythm and optimize its function.

Once home from the hospital, Perry had ongoing support from MyMichigan Health’s Heart Failure Clinic. Developed in collaboration with the University of Michigan Health System, the clinic applies best practices for treating patients who have chronic heart failure to help them live longer, feel better and spend less time in the hospital. Coordinated by Jennifer Dankers, M.S.N.–F.N.P.–B.C., and co-directed by Interventional Cardiologist Michael Lauer, M.D., and Cardiologist Steven Gellman, M.D., the clinic has locations in Midland and Mt. Pleasant.

Having easy access to care and quick responses to questions and concerns helped Perry gain confidence to manage his condition. “They educated me about sodium, diet, liquid intake, medication and more. I keep track of everything and do everything they want me to do. I want to keep my heart going.”

When Dr. Lauer discovered Perry had sleep apnea, he arranged for a continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machine for Perry to use during sleep. “When you stop breathing during the night, your heart has to work twice as hard to keep going. That machine was the best thing I ever got,” Perry said.

Within a few months, Perry began feeling better and saw his energy return. Now his weight is back to normal. Walking doesn’t bother him and he doesn’t get tired. He was happy when Dr. Lauer approved going back to work, as long as he knew when to take it easy.

“In the hospital, they told me that 20 years ago, with the problems I had, I wouldn’t have been around, but now I have my second chance,” he said. “Everything about the Clinic is wonderful. The care and the people who work with me are wonderful. I’m so glad I found the Heart Failure Clinic.”


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. Those who would like additional information about heart failure or MyMichigan’s Heart Failure Clinic may visit www.mymichigan.org/heartfailure.

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