Main content

    Patient Stories
    Sutter Heart & Vascular Institute

    Gary and Priscilla - Sharing the Journey Through Life-Threatening Atrial Fib

    Gary and Priscilla -
    Gary and Priscilla - Sharing the Journey Through Life-Threatening Atrial Fib

    For his entire life Gary’s attitude has remained the same – don’t sweat the small stuff.  “I have never let the small things in life slow me down,” he said.

    So last year when he didn’t feel well, he didn’t give it a second thought.  But luck was on his side that day since Gary had a routine checkup scheduled with his primary care physician.
    “I went into my appointment not thinking much about how I felt. Then the next thing I knew my doctor sent me straight to the hospital and then cardioverted me.”

    At the hospital, Gary was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.  Unlike the majority of atrial fibrillation patients, Gary couldn’t feel his heart flutter.  Instead he learned that the “heartburn” pain which was causing him to feel hot and restless was actually a symptom of his condition. 

    He went home that day with his new diagnosis and some medication to help the symptoms, but three weeks later it came back.  Gary’s wife, Priscilla, drove him to the hospital where he was cardioverted again, stabilized, and then sent home.

    Unfortunately, Gary’s hospital visits were just getting started.  After several visits to the hospital and several different medications including beta blockers, his cardiologist felt it was time for Gary to see an electrophysiologist, a physician specializing in heart rhythm conditions. 

    Again Gary’s luck seemed to kick in.  His first referral was turned down due to missed communication about insurance policies, but his second referral was to see Subramaniam Krishnan, M.D., with the Sutter Medical Group.

    “I really felt lucky getting switched to see Dr. Krishnan.  I did some research on him and found lots of really good things.  After speaking to him, both my wife and I felt that he was the best,” said Gary.

    Dr. Krishnan spoke to Gary about the advantages of having a cryoablation, which freezes the heart muscle instead of burning it, and scheduled him right away for surgery.  But before Gary could make it to the surgery table, he was hospitalized and cardioverted again for his atrial fibrillation.

    In the fall of 2011, Gary and his wife went to Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento for his cryoablation procedure.  But once Dr. Krishnan had Gary on the table, he quickly realized that Gary was not the normal atrial fibrillation patient.

    Gary’s heart had somewhat small pulmonary veins making it difficult to get the equipment into the correct areas.  Being a perfectionist, Dr. Krishnan didn’t let this obstacle detour him.  He spent the time needed to map out a path to the areas of the heart he needed to access, and several hours later, Gary was done with the surgery.

    “When I came out of surgery I felt OK. Later that night, I had a little bit of bleeding trouble with the puncture site on my leg, but even though the hour was very late, Dr. Krishnan came in and fixed it up himself,” said Gary.  “I felt really special having him take care of me personally.  After a long conversation as he sat there and fixed my leg, I realized that it wasn’t just because I was special; he is a doctor who truly cared about all his patients.  It is just his personality.”

    It takes some time to evaluate how an ablation procedure will heal, so Gary had to wait and see if it would be necessary for a follow-up procedure.  Over a six-month period, Gary’s physicians slowly weaned him off his medication and blood thinners – and now more than a year later – Gary still hasn’t had another episode.

    “Dr. Krishnan saved my life,” Gary said.  “I was certainly lucky getting switched to Sutter, and I would do anything for him.” 

     

    Back to top | More Patient Stories