Leon Bluser’s Story
After Leon Bluser experienced an atrial fibrillation episode, his wife Janelle insisted he go to the hospital. Leon credits her for saving his life and Dr. Mark Krebs, MD, director of Cardiac Electrophysiology at Miami Valley Hospital, for prolonging it.
Leon Bluser of Beavercreek, Ohio, knows how life altering atrial fibrillation can be. He had paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, which means his disorganized heartbeat would come and go with no warning. He describes it this way: “My heart was out of control. It felt like a fist inside my chest punching outward. My wife could even feel it on the outside. It was like my whole body was going haywire.” Since he also has asthma and diabetes – both under control – Leon initially blamed his abnormal heart rhythm on those illnesses until it became too serious to ignore.
Leon, who says he is 52 years young, ended up in the emergency room several times over the course of a few years. The first time it happened, his wife Janelle insisted he go to the hospital. “I was stubborn for a day or so. Then I stood up and fell. They admitted me right away. The doctors told me she saved my life. They said I would have had a heart attack or stroke in another hour.”
As Leon’s abnormal heart rate graduated in intensity, he was referred to Dr. Krebs to be evaluated for cardiac ablation. Leon admits he was afraid of possible complications but was more scared of what might happen if he didn’t have the procedure. “I thought I might die without it.” Plus, Leon couldn’t bear to have his wife go through another serious episode in the ER.
Dr. Krebs says in the case of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, ablation has a fairly high success rate. In contrast, persistent atrial fibrillation of long duration becomes more difficult to ablate, and may necessitate more than one procedure to find all the heart areas requiring modification.
In Leon’s case, Dr. Krebs used cardiac ablation to burn tissue within the left atrium around the pulmonary veins, which are blood vessels that return oxygenated blood from the lungs to the heart. “This area tends to be a driver of atrial fibrillation so I electrically isolate the pulmonary veins from the left atrium,” explains Dr. Krebs.
Leon’s procedure interrupted his life for only a short time. He had cardiac ablation on Thursday, returned home on Friday and was back at work by Monday. Leon, an information technology specialist, continues to be fascinated by the procedure and has even watched animations of cardiac ablation on youtube.com.
But he’s even more thrilled about the results. Leon felt bad for so long he didn’t realize how much better he would feel without heart arrhythmias and medication. “I have 30 or 40 percent more energy. I don’t get short of breath. I feel like I’ve gained back ten years. Dr. Krebs gave me a new heart, another chance at life.”
Leon also has high praise for Dr. Krebs’ bedside manner. “He transported me back to my room before heading off to do another ablation. He goes a step beyond other doctors.”