WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL)- It’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, yet this device has yielded big results for not only the surgeons at United Regional’s Cardiac Institute but also for Katy Garcia.
Garcia, 33, has been living with congestive heart failure for the past 10 years, caused by something, not even her doctors were expecting.
“My primary physician told me that my congestive heart failure stemmed from a viral infection. I had a sinus infection in 09’, and it went straight to my heart and enlarged it,” said Garcia.
The infection caused abnormalities to Garcia’s heart ejection fraction, which determines how much blood is pumped out with each heartbeat. The normal rate is 55-70 percent. Garcia’s was only beating at 15%.
She became the perfect candidate for a defibrillator procedure, but more importantly, she became this first candidate to get a Subcutaneous Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator at United Regional, performed by Dr. Darpan Kumar.
“Katy’s situation was a little unique in that she was a very young individual, she’s a young woman in her 30’s, and a traditional ICD would require that we implant the leads inside of her heart and the box would be placed inside her upper chest wall with wires going down inside her heart,” said Dr. Kumar. “So we offered her an option as to a different type of defibrillator that is now being used in the last decade or so which is a subcutaneous ICD.”
Unlike a traditional defibrillator, this device is twice the size and sits under Garcia’s left arm. They’re also only available through Boston Scientific. It acts as a 24/7 heart monitor that’s ready to perform at the first sign of trouble.
“It looks for the arrhythmia and makes sure that it’s a dangerous arrhythmia that she’s having, not noise or artifact, and so then it will go and charge the device and it will go ahead a defibrillate the patient…this can save a patient’s life.” Kumar said
This significance of having subcutaneous ICD surgery available in Wichita Falls is monumental for others living with congestive heart failure, who are unable to travel to the metroplex.
“Bigger centers have been doing this for actually several years now,” said Kumar. “Ever since we started our electrophysiology program here, we’re able to bring these new technologies to our community. Patients here can just travel to the hospital that they’ve known for several decades and have a state of the art procedure performed in our hospital.”
As for Garcia, being the first patient to get this kind of surgery in the county and have it be successful is a pivotal moment in her life.
“It’s always kind of nerve-wracking to be the first to do anything but thankfully he said he had done a lot in his fellowship and so that kind of gave me the confidence of ‘okay he knows what he’s doing, I’m not that much of a guinea pig’,” said Garcia.
Kumar said a second person has been scheduled in getting a subcutaneous ICD installed. For more information on the services provided at United Regional’s Cardiac Institute, click here.