A swimmer, hiker, and martial artist, you’d never guess 64-year-old Trisha McLaughlin struggled with an irregular heartbeat, congestive heart failure, and has undergone a number of heart procedures. She credits the Convergent Procedure performed by CTVS cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Faraz Kerendi for helping her get back to her healthy and active life.

In her mid-50s, Trisha noticed an irregular heartbeat and palpitations from time to time, and was initially told it could be a side effect of a medication she was taking, or even her age. She was losing her energetic self and even struggled with depression as her symptoms got worse and prevented her from her usual active lifestyle.

Having lost her own brother to congestive heart failure in his 50s, Trisha knew not to ignore her symptoms. Her palpitations and discomfort got so worrisome she went to the emergency room and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure herself. She had fluid buildup in her lungs and abdominal cavity, causing pressure on her diaphragm and making it hard for her to breathe. Doctors also confirmed she had atrial fibrillation (AFib), the most common heart arrhythmia disorder affecting an estimated  six million Americans. In addition, Trisha had two blood clots in her heart. Once doctors dissolved those clots, Trisha underwent two cardioversions and was prescribed medications, which unfortunately still didn’t improve her symptoms and overall heart health.

That’s when Trisha was referred to CTVS and Dr. Faraz Kerendi.

“I tearfully told him that I wasn’t done yet. I had a lot to live for and wanted my strong heart back,” Trisha said. “He was compassionate, didn’t rush me, and I felt he would take care of me – which he did.”

Dr. Kerendi recommended the Convergent Procedure, an option for patients with chronic Afib who haven’t had success with other Afib treatments.

The Convergent Procedure involves both a cardiac surgeon and an electrophysiologist. Together they utilize radiofrequency to block irregular electrical signals by producing lesions, or scar tissue, on the patient’s heart. The convergence of technologies and expertise allows for a minimally invasive and effective approach without cardiopulmonary bypass, which means a shorter hospital stay, minimal discomfort and faster recovery.

“It was the first step to a wonderful new life,” Trisha said.

Today, she is able to swim in the Pacific Ocean, hike over four miles through the mountains, dance, practice yoga, lift weights, and really enjoy life.

Trisha says it’s important to advocate for yourself when experiencing symptoms from a heart condition.

“Please don’t let anyone tell you ‘you’re just a tired old person.’ You need to insist you receive a proper evaluation, and the magic words are ‘I would like an EKG, please.’ It’s your life, you deserve to really live it!”

For questions on the Convergent Procedure, Afib, or any of our cardiac, thoracic, or vascular services, please visit CTVS.com or call us at (512) 459-8753 to schedule an appointment.

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