BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Jacqueline Fields, 70, is alive thanks to Dr. Jorge Castellanos, an interventional cardiologist at Our Lady of the Lake.
Fields had a heart attack, but she didn’t realize it, so she didn’t go to the hospital.
“She didn’t have much chest pain," said Dr. Castellanos. "So very atypical symptoms, so she stayed at home. Five days later, she comes to the emergency room with shortness of breath and heart failure.”
An ultrasound of her heart showed a gaping hole between the right and left ventricles.
“The heart attack created a hole in the heart. The problem with this is that 97% of patients that have this, they die. So once you have a ventricular septal defect secondary to a heart attack, your likelihood at survival is extremely low," he explained.
The doctor’s first option was surgery to repair what little tissue was left, but surgeons looked at her case and said no. Even with a successful surgery, Dr. Castellanos said her likelihood of dying was close to 60%. He came up with another option: to plug the hole with a special device only approved for humanitarian use.
“We just told her that this was her only option to survive," he said.
Dr. Castellanos did a minimally invasive procedure, inserting a catheter through her neck to put in this plug. It’s called an Amplatzer Post Infarct Muscular VSD occluder... and it’s keeping her alive.
“It was pretty impressive," the doctor explained. "The next day, her heart rate went down, her kidney function improved and almost three or four days later after the surgery, she came back to the clinic [and] walked in the hallways like nothing happened to her. It was pretty unbelievable.”
This is the first percutaneous closure of a post myocardial infarction ventricular septal defect in Louisiana. Dr. Castellanos has done this procedure before in Seattle, but Fields is the first patient in the State of Louisiana to ever have this done. She is one of about 25 people in the entire country to have this device.
The doctor explained this surgery is lifesaving, but in order to avoid getting to this point, it’s important to know the symptoms of a heart attack.
“Women present with atypical symptoms, which is what happened to her. She had a heart attack on a Saturday. She had some nausea, some vomiting, but no chest pain. She had a complication from her heart attack she didn’t even know she had. The moral of the story is that women should be more concerned for atypical symptoms of a heart attack.”
Research shows 43% of women say they did not experience any chest pain during a heart attack. Women should look out for abnormal symptoms, like feeling fatigued and back pain between the shoulder blades.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, you need to call 911 immediately because every second counts during a heart attack.