Sinclair Cares: Congenital heart defects

Sinclair Cares: Congenital heart defects

Working in partnership with our parent company Sinclair Broadcasting Group we want to keep you informed about important health matters.

While you've probably heard of babies born with holes in their hearts, did you know some of these congenital heart defects may go undetected until adulthood?

Michelle Marsh introduces us to a man who found this out the hard way in a surprising twist.

In four years of marriage, Mike DiMaggio has gladly accepted the role of caregiver for his wife, Kelly.

Kelly DiMaggio said, "I was born with a complex congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome… essentially means I was born missing left side of my heart."

But recently, Mike went from Kelly’s caregiver to the patient in a heartbeat when he passed out at home after a minor surgical procedure.

An ER doctor ruled out stroke and cardiac arrest but told Mike to see a cardiologist, so he made an appointment with Kelly's doctor, Stacy Fisher. "On the ultrasound, we were able to find a hole between the top two chambers of his heart which is called an atrial septal defect," said Dr. Fisher.

1 in 100 babies is born with a heart defect and while Mike's is one of the more common defects, it may go undetected in some people. "The hole between the top two chambers of the heart can be very hard to hear, it's fairly silent, so often people don't find it until they have a problem with it," said Dr. Fisher.

The hole was damaging Mike's heart, so he had a catheter procedure to close it.

Mike is recovering quickly and Dr. Fisher credits his 60-pound weight loss in recent years, and improvements to his diet and exercise regime, with dramatically improving his outcome.

The DiMaggio's made the lifestyle changes together to improve Kelly's health, but it turns out, they became crucial to Mike's as well.

Dr. Fisher says warning signs include shortness of breath, heart palpitations and fluid retention on the legs or belly.

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact a medical professional.

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