Heart of the Band
As the tuba player in his band, Frank sets the bass tone for every other instrument, for every song.
“I enjoy being in the New Horizons Band at Kennesaw State University. There, I’m part of a community who loves and supports one another,” Frank said. “I love playing the tuba because I can visualize the people who played before me. And it constantly reminds me that being part of a community makes life worthwhile.” So, when his heart lost its pace, skipping beats and banging against his chest, he knew there was something wrong with the most important instrument in his body.
“I was working out on the elliptical at Wellstar Health Place, and the heart rate monitor on the machine was jumping to 200 beats per minute. I knew something was wrong,” Frank said. “I was already a patient of Dr. Paul Simonoff’s, so I called his office and he took me in right away.”
“Frank’s heart was racing,” said Dr. Simonoff. “He was also experiencing heart palpitations, fatigue and shortness of breath. That’s when I discovered his heart was out of rhythm.” Dr. Simonoff diagnosed him with atrial fibrillation (AFib), which occurs when the upper chambers of the heart — known as atria — beat irregularly and fail to pump blood efficiently to the rest of the body.
The symptoms of AFib are sporadic. You might notice a skipped heartbeat, and then feel a thud or thump, followed by your heart racing for an extended period. You might feel fluttering or jumping, mimicking the effects of a heart attack.
“Dr. Simonoff had to do other diagnoses and perform more tests before I could receive electrical cardioversion shock treatment,” Frank said. Electrical cardioversion shock treatment is a procedure that restores a normal heart rhythm in people with certain types of abnormal heartbeats, Dr. Simonoff explained.
“It often takes only one shock to restore the heart to a regular rhythm,” Dr. Simonoff said, noting that the patient is under general anesthesia during the procedure. “They’re asleep and don’t feel a thing. They’ll wake up from the procedure and ask, ‘So, when are we getting started?,’ and it’s all done. Their heart is already back in rhythm.”
“I haven’t had a problem ever since then, and I’ve been taking my medication to prevent it from happening,” Frank announced. “It’s fully under control.” Dr. Simonoff sees these symptoms frequently and knew that the AFib Clinic at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital could help Frank. This highly-specialized team provides a thorough clinical evaluation of patients with AFib.
To this day, this is still the only comprehensive and dedicated atrial fibrillation clinic in Georgia. Frank now manages his AFib with medication, regular exercise and checkups. “Frank is doing great,” Dr. Simonoff smiled. “I see him on regularly and his heart has remained a steady rhythm. Our goal is to have patients like Frank be as healthy as possible so they can get back to their lives.”
Thankfully, Frank resumed his place in the New Horizons Band without skipping a beat.
“I don't think we are thankful enough to our doctors or to people who work in healthcare. We are here because they're there,” said Frank. “We’re here because they've done their job and they're dedicated.”