Big city heart procedures in small town Quincy

One in four people may be walking around with an actual hole in their heart, that's according to the American Heart Association.

It's a serious heart condition known as Patent Foramen Ovale, or PFO.

That means the heart chambers didn't close completely at birth like they should

Not everyone with this condition has complications, but those that do can have severe migraines and recurring strokes.

A new procedure came out about five years ago, but has only been available at Blessing Hospital in Quincy for the past year.

As KHQA's Jarod Wells found out, big city expertise and equipment can be found with a small town feel.

Niota native Amy Rosson works as a large animal veterinarian. On a typical day she works on 300 to 500 cattle. About a year ago she started having high blood pressure and heart palpitations.

Amy Rosson said, "One day we were in the truck going on a call and started having really bad chest pains and it hurt like all up through my neck."

A few days later she found out she had had a mild heart attack.

QMG Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Stilianos Efstratiadis said, "Amy had very, very bad symptoms. Here lifestyle was completely impaired. She came to me and I found she had actually a very large Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)."

An Atrial Septal Defect is a very large whole in the heart. Normally, blood comes into the heart on one side and leaves on the other side of the heart after being oxygenated.

Dr. Efstratiadis said, "If you have communication in between, what happens is that these small clots from the legs, bypass the lungs and they go into the brain from the left side and that's what can cause a stroke. The same thing can happen with migraines."

It used to be the only way to fix this was open heart surgery, but about five years ago another option came about.

Dr. Efstratiadis said, "What we do, we seal the hole by this device here that's like a small mushroom, and this device just goes there, sits there and seals the two areas so there's no communication between that side and that side and you're completely sealed for life."

Since Dr. Efstratiadis came to Quincy a year ago, he has done 33 of these procedures, they are normally only done in big cities and university hospitals.

Dr. Efstratiadis said, "At this point with the number of procedures we have done in Quincy, Blessing Hospital has been ranked 7th in the territory of hospitals including Chicago territory and Milwaukee territory. This is a fantastic result. We're ranked among giants."

Amy Rosson said, "The thing I like most about this kind of procedure done in a small hospital, it's homey, you're not a number in Quincy."

Rosson said within 6 weeks of the procedure she could tell a difference in her health.

Rosson said, "Before the procedure to even get through the day working as a vet tech, it was very hard. I was short of breath, it just was all I could do to get through a day. And after having the procedure done and as it healed, I'm not tired any more, it doesn't feel like I have 50 lb weights on my legs any more."

And for a single mom who works full time, having the procedure done close to home allowed her to get back to normal life that much quicker.

The procedure Dr. Efstratiadis did on Amy Rosson was actually sent to his mentor at the University of Utah and is now being shown at medical conferences.