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Seminar on Atrial Fibrillation to Ablation Surgery: Charlotte’s Journey

When Charlotte Wells went to see her primary care doctor for heart-related issues, she thought she had a heart arrhythmia. But when Charlotte continued to get worse, she knew something wasn’t right. Her doctor then requested she come in for an EKG the next time her heart monitor went off. Once her doctor performed an EKG and gave Charlotte the results, she explained to her that she had sent them to Oklahoma Heart Institute cardiologist, Dr. David Sandler, because Charlotte didn’t have arrhythmia -  she had atrial fibrillation

No one in Charlotte’s family had ever had heart problems so she didn’t have any background knowledge about atrial fibrillation. “One day I saw in the newspaper there was going to be a seminar about atrial fibrillation and Dr. Sandler would be speaking, so I told my husband, ‘We need to go to this,’ so we went.” Charlotte heard Dr. Sandler and two other doctors speak about atrial fibrillation and the different treatment options.

“I sat there and I heard everything, and when I heard Dr. Sandler explain the cardiac ablation procedure, I said, ’That is what I want; I don’t want a band-aid, I want this fixed.’ As soon as I turned 65 and knew the surgery would be covered under my insurance, I called my doctor and had her make an appointment with Dr. Sandler.”

Once Charlotte saw Dr. Sandler and he reviewed her medical history, he told her she would be an ideal candidate for the ablation surgery because she didn’t have any other medical issues. Charlotte remembered that he had encouraged everyone at the seminar she attended to have something done as soon as they found out they have atrial fibrillation, because the younger you are, the better off you are.

After Charlotte’s appointment with Dr. Sandler, she had to wear a heart monitor for a few weeks. Once Charlotte returned to Dr. Sandler for the results, she was astonished when he showed her how often her heart was out of rhythm, and how many times her heart had stopped beating all together. 

That is when it all made sense to Charlotte. She had struggled with accomplishing simple errands with her husband, such as shopping at the grocery store. “It would just hit me, and I would grab my husband and I would say ‘Set me down, get me down on the floor, I can’t get enough air,’” shares Charlotte. “I never knew when my heart would go off; it wasn’t due to stress or anything, it would just happen randomly.”

Charlotte had the ablation surgery at Oklahoma Heart Institute (OHI) as soon as all of her tests were complete and her insurance confirmed they would cover the surgery. Three years later, Charlotte hasn’t experienced any more heart trouble. “I can walk everywhere with my husband now. I am living proof that it really works. I would tell anybody to give it a chance!” 

Charlotte’s son, who is 48 years old, was also recently treated for atrial fibrillation. “He was just operated on in August. He came to me and told me his symptoms, and I told him he had the same thing I did.”

The morning of Charlotte’s son’s surgery, she reassured him that when he came out, he was going to be a new person. He told his mother, “I’m ready for it.” Charlotte replied, “You’ll do just fine.” Today, Charlotte’s son is doing great and his heart is getting stronger every day.

“It makes all of the difference in the world,” shares Charlotte. "You do not realize how bad you feel until you have the surgery. It really is night and day.”

“It was just great. They were so nice from the time I went in for tests. The doctors and nurses were so good to me, and as for Dr. Sandler, he basically saved my life,” Charlotte said of her experience at OHI. 

Find out more about atrial fibrillation and treatment options available through Oklahoma Heart Institute, by attending our heart health seminar "Keeping Pace with AFib" on October 19th. To RSVP for this seminar, please click here. For more information about Oklahoma Heart Institute, visit our website or call 918.592.0999 to schedule an appointment.