When speaking about the history with her heart, Jennifer Laureano is happy to share, “I feel good now.”
But this wasn’t always the case.
It was about six or seven years ago that Jennifer first noticed she felt dizzy and fatigued while at work. As a registered nurse on the impatient physical rehab unit at Mercy Health – St. Rita’s Medical Center, Jennifer is often active and on her feet. However, she eventually became concerned with her lack of energy.
Jennifer found out that she was born with a hole in her heart. In her 50s, she underwent a procedure to repair this hole. After the surgery, Jennifer headed back to work. However, she didn’t necessarily go back to feeling great.
As a registered nurse, Jennifer knew she had to keep tabs on her heart. A few years after her initial procedure, she noticed she had extremely high heart rate. This led to her being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a condition that occurs when upper chambers of the heart don’t beat properly, causing an irregular heartbeat.
Despite treatments, consultations with specialists and even medications, Jennifer wasn’t able to get her heart under control. She was eventually referred to St. Rita’s cardiothoracic surgeon John Sirak, MD. He suggested a unique procedure that would be a good option for her.
The 5-box thoracoscopic maze procedure is minimally-invasive surgery for patients with atrial fibrillation. With a success rate of upwards of 95 percent, this procedure consists of four pencil-sized incisions on each side of the chest to isolate the key anatomy responsible for this health condition.
“During this procedure, we go after the areas that are most responsible for the atrial fibrillation and electrically isolating them. Then, the normal pathway can take control and thereby allow normal heart function,” Dr. Sirak says.
At the time, Jennifer was retired and looking to spend more time with her grandchildren. She was also taking on the responsibility of caring for her elderly father. Jennifer was ready to feel better. In May 2018, she underwent this innovative procedure.
In the months following her surgery, Jennifer wore a device to monitor her heart rate. It was finally steady, only a three-second flutter was ever detected.
Now 65 and feeling much better, Jennifer says she is enjoying her time with her family. She is also thankful her fatigue has gone away, otherwise how would she keep up with the grandkids!
Learn more about the heart care services we offer at Mercy Health.