Heart and Vascular

Karen Thankful for Dr. Meris’ Attentive Care

Nov 22 2023

She had some weight struggles and was ready to make a change.

Karen Protiva (pictured above, left), a physical therapy assistant at the Mercy Health — Howland Medical Center, heard from a niece about a diet pill that was working for her.

“I wanted that diet pill,” Karen says. “So, I called my family doctor, Dr. Meris, and I told her. She said, ‘I can’t agree to put you on this pill until you come into the office.’”

Karen reluctantly made the appointment with Ypapanti Meris, MD (pictured above, right) at Mercy Health – Youngstown Primary Care.

“At the appointment, Dr. Meris said, ‘I don’t like what I hear. I am going to order an ‘EKG,’” Karen recalls. “I was furious with her. I wanted to get on this pill.”

As Karen thought about it though, she had noticed she was huffing and puffing. She just thought she was out of shape.

Dr. Meris referred Karen to Mita Raheja, MD, a cardiologist with Mercy Health – The Heart and Vascular Institute, Youngstown Electrophysiology. As a cardiac electrophysiologist specializing in irregular heart rhythms, Dr. Raheja immediately put Karen on a two-week heart monitor. They discovered the signals on the top part of Karen’s heart weren’t connecting.

“Dr. Raheja also had me do a sleep study and I failed that miserably,” Karen shares. “I knew I was snoring but had no idea what was behind it. They found that my oxygen level was 85 percent.”

For reference, oxygen levels below 90 percent are labeled as very concerning, indicating a medical emergency.

What followed for Karen was an ablation procedure to treat atrial fibrillation. The procedure makes small burns or freezes to cause some scarring on the inside of the heart to help break up the electrical signals that cause irregular heartbeats. Karen says her only challenge following the procedure was some severe bruising in both legs.

Today, she wholeheartedly expresses gratitude and praise for both Dr. Meris and Dr. Raheja.

“I can do anything, including running up the steps at work,” Karen says. “Good for Dr. Meris that she didn’t just write a script. She knew I was upset about my weight, but she held firm.”

Karen recently enjoyed her son’s wedding and helping her daughter move into college.

“My daughter’s college move takes several flights of stairs,” Karen adds. “If my heart was the way it was in January of 2023, there is no way I would been able to help her move.”

She continues, “Losing weight is a battle, but it is not because of my heart. I didn’t feel like my heart was a problem. I think I would be dead if I had a heart attack or stroke and not gotten to the hospital in time.”

Karen encourages others to listen to their body and find a trusted doctor.

“You have to go to a doctor that listens to you and that you feel confident that they are listening,” she says. “If you don’t have confidence in your doctor then you need to find another doctor.”

This holiday season, we are celebrating by spreading the good news! Read more thankful stories, like this one, that feature our team members, patients and the wonderful communities we are blessed to serve.

Also, learn about the heart and vascular care we provide at Mercy Health.

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