HealthWatch: Congestive Heart Failure

Published 02/02 2014 08:51PM

Updated 02/05 2014 05:52PM

Green Bay, Wisconsin (WFRV) This February is the 50th anniversary of American heart month. The idea is to increase awareness that heart disease is the nation's number 1 killer, claiming more lives than an all forms of cancer combined. Which is why Aurora BayCare Medical Center is trying to raise awareness.

John sage has heart issues, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. However, his medicine was controlling these issues.

What he didn't know was he had several silent heart attacks, and when he came down with the flu he almost died.

John Sage is walking a little slower these days, but he's grateful to be alive.

"I'm an example of a miracle that can happen medically," said John Sage.

Last January, John came down with the flu and within days.

"I couldn't breathe, I couldn't get a breath past my collar bone," said John.

So he went to the emergency room at Aurora BayCare Medical center.

"He had influenza that had progressed into pneumonia," said Dr. David Mathias, Interventional Cardiologist, Aurora BayCare Medical Center.

The illness attacked his heart.

"He had congestive heart failure associated with the pneumonia and influenza," explained Dr. Mathias.

John had triple bypass surgery, received a pacemaker to regulate his heart's rhythm and defibrillator to shock his heart if it stops.

"With the medications, with the pacemakers we can actually make their heart pump better," explained Dr. Mathias.

Further investigation found John had suffered previous, unknown, heart attacks.

"The Weakness of his heart muscle was due to multiple previous heart attacks, silent," said Dr. Mathias.

Looking back, John did have some warning signs but he attributed it to getting older.

"I used to walk 18 holes of golf that gradually became driving 18 holes of golf riding in a golf cart," said John.

Dr. Mathias says if John had not have gone into the emergency room that night, "He probably would have died,".

But John listened to his body and today he's looking forward to a long future.

"I'm looking to be alive for a long time and visit my grandkids which is more fun," said John.

Symptoms of congestive heart failure include shortness of breath, swelling in the legs and orthopnea which is difficulty breathing while lying down. but gets better in an upright position.

Dr. Mathias says if you find yourself sleeping in your chair because you can't breathe lying down, go see your doctor.

To learn more you can call Aurora BayCare at (920) 288-8000 or email <

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