Today at age 81, Georgia resident Betty Brummet enjoys golfing, working in her yard, and an active lifestyle. But until recently her quality of life was not where she wanted it to be.
“I didn’t realize the extent of my condition and how long it had been hindering my lifestyle until after I had an angioplasty and stent put in,” said Betty. “Now, I’m able to fully enjoy all the activities I like doing without getting winded and having to stop midway through.”
Betty’s quality of life had diminished because she suffered from stable angina – frequent chest pain, shortness of breath, strained breathing and discomfort – and was forced to scale back the activities she loved. Although she tried medication to help alleviate some of these symptoms, she still found she was limited in what she could do, even after her medications were adjusted by her primary care physician.
“I knew I wasn’t 100 percent because I would be working in the yard and start mowing the lawn and have to have my husband finish it for me because I would get too tired,” Betty reflects. “My lifestyle had become limited in what I was able to do and the activities I could complete.”
Despite medications, her chest discomfort escalated and she knew it was time to seek help.
“One evening I went to lie down and read a book,” said Betty. “I felt an unfamiliar discomfort and a tightening sensation in the left side of my chest when I tried to lie down. It wasn’t a strong pain, but the feeling was uncomfortable, I couldn’t lie down and had to sit or stand to try and ease the pain.”
Betty’s chest discomfort did eventually go away, but when it returned the next night she once again was unable to sleep. She took aspirin, which helped with the pain and allowed her to sleep. The next day she felt better, but the combination of nightly chest pain and excessive strain while exerting energy during simple activities like yard work, encouraged her decision to see her doctor.
On a Friday afternoon Betty was referred to a cardiologist and spent the night in the emergency room for observation. The following morning she underwent a stress test, where it was discovered she had two areas in the heart that were not getting good blood supply.
A cardiac catheterization revealed two blocked arteries and she underwent a balloon procedure (angioplasty) to open her blocked arteries. Dr. Jeffrey Marshall, the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) president and medical director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at Northeast Georgia Heart Center, performed the procedure and inserted a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into Betty’s femoral artery near her groin. Carefully guiding the tube from her groin to her heart, Dr. Marshall opened the arteries with two small tube-like stents, restoring full blood flow.
Betty was pain-free when she awoke following the procedure and left the hospital the next day. After the procedure she immediately noticed an improvement in her ability to breathe easy, not realizing how strained it was before her procedure, and how she can sleep without any discomfort.
“I have witnessed many cases similar to Betty’s, where a patient’s quality of life is extremely limited due to stable angina,” said Dr. Marshall. “Fortunately, Betty sought help and we were able to use angioplasty and stenting to get her back to living her life to the fullest and doing what she loves. That is extremely rewarding.”
Angina symptoms – such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and becoming tired or winded when doing even mild physical activity – can take a significant toll on quality of life. Click here to learn more about angina. The good news is that four out of five patients who responded to a recent survey said their lives changed for the better after angioplasty. Click here to read the survey results.