When it comes to heart disease, the early signs can be hard to read.
Michael Carroll, a 60-year-old Coral Springs resident, was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation in June 2022 and said his first symptoms came and went.
“The first symptoms I remember were nausea and burning in my upper chest that came and went away,” Carroll said.
Carroll, who walked five miles every day, said he did not think he was at risk of heart disease.
But he felt sluggish after his first bout of chest pain, and a week or so later, his nausea and fatigue returned.
“I started retaining water and feeling short of breath. That’s when I went to the ER,” Carroll said.
“Finding out I had heart disease was scary and surreal,” Carroll said. “I spoke to a cousin with heart failure, who reassured me that while it would be hard at first, things would get better.”
Carroll received care at Broward Health Medical Center and Broward Health Coral Springs from Lucia Blanchard, D.O., a cardiologist with Broward Health Physician Group, and Ahmed Osman, M.D., medical director of electrophysiology at Broward Health Medical Center.
“Everyone, everywhere I went at Broward Health, was so empathetic and caring,” Carroll said of his journey. “I really appreciated how they explained things in detail. From the nurses to the rehab team, everyone was just so good to me.”
Carroll’s treatment has included receiving a cardiac catheterization, a pacemaker/defibrillator in October, heart failure medication, weight loss and cardiac rehab.
“Atrial fibrillation can often remain undetected and lead to cardiac function deterioration, which is what Michael experienced. Some patients require invasive intervention such as ablation or pacemaker and defibrillator insertion to keep the heart in rhythm and recover heart pumping strength,” Dr. Osman explained.
“We work together to deliver custom cardiac care based on the individual needs of our patients,” Dr. Blanchard said. “Heart disease can be daunting. But patients who follow their treatment plan and make the recommended lifestyle changes can experience dramatic improvements.”
While the first months after his diagnosis were challenging, Carroll was determined to prioritize his health. He works out three times a week, has lost a significant amount of weight and says he continues getting better and better.
“The only difference between a challenge and a pain in the neck is your attitude,” concludes Carroll, who is back to walking every day. “I told my wife, if I did not have a good outcome, it wasn’t going to be because I didn’t try.”