Health News

Early heart problem detection saves man's life


Ladell Humphries went to his primary care physician Dr. Donald Behling with complaints of exhaustion. After an echocardiogram revealed Ladell’s heart had a low ejection fraction, meaning it was not pumping like it should, Dr. Behling admitted Ladell to McLeod Regional Medical Center.

An ejection fraction measures the amount of blood the left ventricle of the heart pumps out to the body with each heartbeat. A normal ejection fraction is in the 50 to 75 range, according to the American Heart Association. Ladell’s range was 15 to 20.

A heart catheterization discovered four blockages in Ladell’s coronary arteries. He was referred to McLeod Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Robert Messier for surgery.

“Dr. Messier was concerned about me undergoing open heart surgery because of how weak my heart was,” said Ladell. “My wife and I prayed about my surgery and decided we wanted to pursue it.”

After recovering from his successful four-vessel bypass surgery, Ladell began Cardiac Rehabilitation at the McLeod Health & Fitness Center. While exercising, one of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Nurses noted on the monitor that Ladell’s heart was in atrial fibrillation and brought it to his attention.

Atrial fibrillation, also called AF or A-Fib, is one of the most common irregular heart rhythms.  AF is an abnormality of the electrical system of the heart.  It is a rapid beating of the upper chambers of the heart, which prevents the heart from pumping blood adequately to the lower chambers.

Ladell went to see McLeod Electrophysiologist Dr. Cyrus Kocherla about the atrial fibrillation. An electrophysiologist is a physician who specializes in evaluating the abnormalities of the heart’s rhythm.

Dr. Kocherla recommended an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). An ICD is a small battery powered device placed in the chest to detect and stop irregular heartbeats. It continuously monitors the heartbeats and delivers electric shocks when needed to restore a regular heart rhythm.

After regular appointments with Dr. Kocherla, medications, and the help of the ICD, Ladell, his wife Mary Jane, their two sons, eight grandchildren and the entire congregation of the North Hartsville Baptist Church where Ladell serves as the pastor, were blessed to learn that Ladell’s heart function had improved. His ejection fraction was now in the 50 to 55 range.

“When I first started on this medical journey I was in bad shape,” said Ladell. “It took all my energy to do something as simple as taking a shower. I never imagined my heart would improve to this level.

“Dr. Kocherla is a wonderful doctor. He has a great personality and a positive attitude. I really appreciate everything he has done for me.

“This whole experience has really given me a new lease on life,” added Ladell.


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