Photo of Ed Hutchison, Heart Failure Clinic patient.

Ed Hutchison - Midland, MI

"The friendly and supportive staff are excellent at partnering with patients and helping them maintain good heart health."

Specialized Clinic Has Helped Him Manage Heart Failure

Heart health is a serious thing in Ed Hutchison’s family. Out of the eight Hutchison siblings, the oldest five have or had cardiac health challenges, and unfortunately, three of his siblings have passed away from heart disease. With a predisposition to congestive heart failure (CHF), it was no surprise when Hutchison wound up in the hospital for a heart attack in 2003.

“After my heart attack, I had coronary artery bypass surgery and then had a defibrillator put in, so cardiac challenges have always been significant for me,” Hutchison explained. “I seem to have an affinity for congestive heart failure. I was in the hospital three times over the last two years and that’s how I got introduced to the Heart Failure Clinic.”

MyMichigan Health’s Heart Failure Clinic was developed in collaboration with Michigan Medicine, the health care division of the University of Michigan. Clinic patients benefit from the expertise of an experienced team of heart failure specialists. The program is designed to assist patients in monitoring responses to treatment, modifying behaviors, adjusting medications, coordinating care with their cardiologist and primary care provider, and facilitating referrals for advanced heart failure treatments if needed.

When nurses told Hutchison about the clinic, he initially wasn’t convinced. “I really thought the Heart Failure Clinic was just a bunch of marketing,” Hutchison admits. “But since I’ve been going there, I’ve found they really do a wonderful job in helping you stay out of the hospital, which is their goal.”

Hutchison has primarily worked with Family Nurse Practitioners Susan Merrell, M.S.N., F.N.P.-B.C., and Sara A. Sisco, M.S.N., F.N.P.-B.C., who recommended two different medical devices that are reducing his number of hospital visits. The first is a new device called the WATCHMAN™ Implant, the only FDA-approved implant proven to reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation-related stroke. The implant closes off an area of the heart called the Left Atrial Appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots from the LAA from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke.

The second device, the CardioMEMS™ HF System, is a sensor implanted in the pulmonary artery (the blood vessel that moves blood from the heart to the lungs) that measures blood flow pressure and heart rate. It takes daily pressure readings and wirelessly transmits the data to the doctor.

“The Heart Failure Clinic can catch congestive heart failure symptoms before they become a problem. So if I had a pizza tonight and a pizza tomorrow, they would probably notice it because of the pressure in my heart, so they’d call me and tell me to quit eating pizza,” Hutchison said.

Each day, specialists at the Heart Failure Clinic review Hutchison’s data and if they see concerning numbers, they call him with recommendations about what to do.

The Heart Failure Clinic also taught him more about his condition so he can be proactive in improving his heart health. Hutchison is careful about how much salt he consumes, and he knows that decreased urination and swelling of limbs are red flags.

For anyone else struggling with congestive heart failure, Hutchison highly recommends partnering with the Heart Failure Clinic. “I would much rather visit the Heart Failure Clinic every six months than be in the hospital that often,” Hutchison said. “The friendly and supportive staff are excellent at partnering with patients and helping them maintain good heart health.”

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.

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