Picture of a heart.

  Faces of the Heart

Image of Jace Thomas.

Jace Thomas - Age 23 - Student

Cardiac Electrophysiologist: Sumit Verma, M.D., FACC

In 2007, Jace was just starting school at the University of West Florida when he began to experience heart flutters. Because his older brother (by three years) had just undergone five heart surgeries in eight months, Jace was quick to go see a doctor. The cardiologist fitted Jace with an implantable loop recorder, a small device implanted just under the skin that monitors the heart, to be kept in place for four years. The diagnosis was atrial tachycardia, which, as it turns out, was more easily treated than his brother’s condition. The recommendation was to get some rest and decrease his caffeine intake. Not everyone who experiences a heart condition needs something as drastic as surgery. For Jace, a simple treatment was appropriate, and he’s enjoying good health today.

It’s a sobering fact we should all know, heart disease takes the lives of approximately 600,000 men and women every year, making it the No. 1 disease to cause deaths.

Men, women, young, old, thin, overweight – heart disease doesn’t discriminate. However, as with all challenges in life, we also are presented with successes. Meet a few people who have met the challenge of heart disease head-on.

Image of Gretchen Patti.

Gretchen Patti - Age 55 - Business owner

Surgeon: James L. Nielsen, M.D., FACS

For a few months Gretchen had been experiencing what she though was indigestion. But when she mentioned to her husband that she also was experiencing tightness in the chest, they went straight to the emergency department. There, on Good Friday, she was told that she had two blockages that were about to combine, and if they did, she would suffer a heart attack. If she did not go in for a triple bypass she would not be alive past Monday. On Monday morning she went in for the surgery that saved her life. In this case, Gretchen needed emergency surgery to allow her to live the full and active life she enjoys today.

Image of Earline Dunklin-Williams.

Earline Dunklin-Williams - Age 48 - Teacher

Cardiologists: Ramon Aycock, M.D., FACC
Cardiologists: Safwan Jaalouk, M.D., FACC
Interventional Cardiologist: Luther I. Carter, M.D., FACC, FSCAI

When Earline received a high cholesterol number during a routine checkup, she didn’t think too much about it. But in Nov. 2007, she suffered a heart attack and began an arduous journey as a heart disease patient. In spite of starting an exercise program and eating better, Earline suffered four more heart attacks between 2007 and 2013. The last heart attack resulted in her heart stopping twice. In July of 2013, Earline underwent a procedure to place a biodegradable stent, and since then, has been heart attack-free and living a good quality of life. Earline says she now fights every day, mentally and physically against this disease. She reminds other women to be proactive about their health, ask questions, and especially to ask about that cholesterol number if they don’t know what it means.

Image of Chris Green.

Chris Green - Age 71 - Real estate developer/commercial broker

Cardiologists: Ramon Aycock, M.D., FACC
Surgeon: James L. Lonquist, M.D., FACS

Chris had just finished 90 radiation treatments for prostate cancer when it was recommended that he should be checked out by a cardiologist. Eight days after his first appointment with Dr. Aycock, Chris was having an open heart bypass to unblock two arteries. His heart had 90 percent blockage, and Chris had experienced no symptoms. He is now doing well, back at work and considers himself very lucky to have had his condition diagnosed in time for treatment.