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Julie's Story

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SEPTAL MYECTOMY

Temple Heart & Vascular Institute patient, Julie

Thanks to the Temple Heart & Vascular Institute, these days if you want to find Julie, your best bet would be to go to her bustling bakery, The Able Baker, in Maplewood, New Jersey. 

That hasn’t always been the case. In September 2006, the then 41-year-old went into cardiac arrest while jogging on a treadmill at her gym. She survived, but was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an abnormal condition that makes it harder for the heart to pump and distribute blood.

With medication and a defibrillator implant, however, she was able to manage her condition—until early 2014. By then, Julie could no longer keep up with her two children. She couldn’t walk half a block or carry laundry upstairs without having to catch her breath. Her husband Thomas had to drop her off at the front door of restaurants or shops if a parking place was not close. 

Then, because of edema—swelling from retained fluids—she gained 10 pounds in just three days. That, combined with the shortness of breath she was experiencing at night, led her cardiologist in northern New Jersey to recommend that she find a surgeon. Her condition was no longer manageable with medication; to restore proper blood flow, she needed surgery.

I wanted an expert in the type of procedure I was having. The Temple Heart & Vascular Institute was the only place where I found someone who was doing it with repeated success and expertise.

- Julie
Temple Heart & Vascular Institute patient, Julie

“I wanted an expert in the type of procedure I was having,” Julie says. “I found many heart surgeons in fabulous places doing wonderful work, but they didn’t do the procedure that I needed very often. The Temple Heart & Vascular Institute was the only place where I found someone who was doing it with repeated success and expertise.”

Patients who undergo non-invasive surgery at Temple recover in about half the time as patients who undergo conventional surgery—a big plus, particularly for someone like Julie who wanted to return to her bakeshop as soon as possible. After a four-day hospitalization following her July 2014 surgery, she says, “When I left I was taking Tylenol as a pain killer. Within a week I felt like myself and within three weeks I was walking three miles a day.”

Julie is once again spending long days operating her bakeshop—and then exercising as well. “Short of running, I can usually keep up with just about anybody,” she says. “Heart-wise, the more I exercise, the better and stronger I feel."

“My surgeon and doctor at Temple,” she adds, “had a better grasp of my condition than some of the other physicians I’d met along the way. I definitely made the right choice about where to go.”