Oscar enjoys an active lifestyle. He volunteers in civic and religious organisations, travels, and exercises regularly.
But it was only recently when heart failure changed Oscar's life. It drained his energy, left him short of breath, and forced him to spend more time resting. "I couldn't do my normal activities," he says. "It was almost like I was a whole different person."
For Oscar, heart failure came on gradually. He felt drained and washed out. At first, Oscar thought he had the flu. His doctor treated him for the flu. But Oscar was still "dragging."
Oscar would need to stop and catch his breath after walking half a block. Climbing the stairs in his three-level home left him winded. "It was huff-puff, huff-puff hard," he says. "After any activity, I would have to rest. I would have an ache in my chest." After rolling the garbage can out, he'd have to rest for three to four minutes.
He found ways to conserve his limited supply of energy. "When I had a board meeting at night, I'd save up energy for it during the day," he says. When he visited family in Denver, he sat in the car while the others did tourist activities. Instead of playing with his grandchildren, he'd sit in his chair. "You learn how to compensate," he adds.
Oscar's cardiologist told him to continue to restrict his salt consumption and take prescribed medications to control the fluid retention that can accompany heart failure. When Oscar brought up his diminished energy level, the doctor told Oscar to rest when he felt tired. "It's very discouraging to be told that nothing can be done," Oscar says.
But Oscar's positive attitude prevailed. "I never felt sorry for myself," he says. "I can't deal with negatives." Instead, he changed cardiologists. After giving Oscar a series of tests and examinations, his new physician, Dr. Philip Binkley at the Ohio State University Hospital, told Oscar that he was a good candidate for a new device to treat heart failure, the Medtronic InSync II Marquis™ system. The system combines cardiac resynchronisation and defibrillation therapies in a single device.
Oscar wanted to know more about the InSync II Marquis system and Medtronic. He got on the Internet and read up on it. The InSync II Marquis system helps the heart pump more efficiently and protects against sudden cardiac arrest.
Three weeks later, he was implanted with the device. "And immediately – immediately – I felt the difference," Oscar says. "I wasn't winded anymore."
A week after the procedure, Oscar went to Cincinnati for a family event – and did the swing dance with his sister. "I did follow the doctor's guidelines," Oscar says with a laugh. "I was exercising and I did not put my hand above my head."
These days he enjoys his renewed energy level and vigor. Oscar exercises at least three times a week: 30 minutes on a treadmill and 15 minutes on a stationary bicycle. Oscar climbs stairs with no problem. He travels often.
"Today, I was up at 5 a.m. for a 6:30 breakfast. I felt good!" says Oscar. "And I went to bed at 12:00 last night."
Looking ahead, Oscar wants to help raise money for good causes, including the new church that he and his wife belong to. He is continuing to serve on a state board regulating eyeglasses, a position he was appointed to by the governor. He wants to live "the active life" as long as he can, he says.
Heart failure affects nearly 5 million Americans and Oscar recommends cardiac resynchronisation therapy to those heart failure sufferers who may be candidates for it. Oscar says that the therapy represents the chance for a better quality of life. "People shouldn't fear this," he says. "I would recommend it highly."
Oscar stands ready to "rumble" and tussle with the grandkids. "Now that I've got the device, bring on the grandkids. Bring on the 4-year-old, the 6-year-old, and the 8-year-old. I'm ready," he says, smiling.
This story recounts the experience of a patient who is receiving cardiac resynchronisation therapy for moderate to severe heart failure with ventricular dysynchrony. Medtronic, Inc. invited this person to share his story candidly. As you read it, please bear in mind that these experiences are specific to this particular patient. Results vary; not every response is the same.
This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.