Patty Settle's Story
When Patty Settle of Clayton underwent treatment for cancer, her oncologist said her heart would likely suffer damage from the radiation needed to destroy a large tumor crushing her lung.
As she recovered, Settle could feel her heart was different and that it was beating faster than normal. But she learned to live with it and was grateful to have survived. Settle, then 35, got on with her busy life, running her small house-cleaning business, and rearing her two children, who were 5 and 6 years old at the time.
Sudden Health Change
But one spring, Settle suddenly began swelling and feeling sick. She suspected her gall bladder was to blame. But a physician in the emergency department (ED) picked up on a clue, a bulging vein in her neck. And within hours, she was tested, diagnosed, and hospitalized for congestive heart failure.
“It was a whirlwind,” Settle said. “I went to the ED thinking I needed gallbladder surgery, and then found out that a muscle in my heart was scarred and wasn’t pumping hard enough.”
During the next seven days in the hospital, she took medication to help draw away 35 pounds of fluid that had built up in her body.
Lifesaving Heart Care
To stabilize her condition, her cardiologist ordered a lifesaving vest that both monitors the heart’s activity and delivers a shock if it stops beating. For the next three months, Settle slept, worked, and played while wearing the device.
“We went camping, hiking, and boating,” she said. “I wanted to live as fully as possible. I didn’t slow down for cancer, and I wasn’t going to slow down for congestive heart failure, either. In the back of my mind, I wondered, ‘How long do I have with my kids?’”
Feeling Much Better
Settle underwent a procedure in the cardiac catheterization lab at Johnston Health to have a defibrillator implanted in her chest. She’s now eating a sodium-free diet and taking medications to flush excess fluids and control her blood pressure. Today, she’s back at work and feeling much better.