TAMPA, Fla. — Heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the United States for many years, and Dennis Green has been all too familiar with heart issues.
Green has had trouble breathing for a long time.
"All of a sudden, I didn't want to go on trips. They weren't as fun. I couldn't do what I would normally do on a trip. The quality of life was diminished," Green explained. "So I knew I had to do something about it."
That's when he met USF Health's Cardiologist, Dr. Bibhu Mohanty.
"Over the last two years, we've been sort of walking him and guiding him through this process of fixing his coronary arteries. He had significant blockages. We were able to deal with that with a sort of a tailored regimen to allow him to go through that safely. We then fixed his heart valve, that again, took a tailored regimen, took a little creativity to figure out a way to get him through that safely," Mohanty explained.
But Green had other preexisting heart issues as well.
"About the age of 30, I started to have a-Fib. Now it's almost like a normal thing. I walk around, my heart beats funny. There's times when I have to stop and take a breath because it goes in an erratic rhythm," Green said.
Most patients who have Atrial Fibrillation, an irregular and often rapid heart rate, need to stay on blood thinners to prevent a clot from forming and having a stroke.
But taking blood thinners has been very challenging for Green.
"I can't take blood thinners. If you see my wrist, my arm, they just eat me up from the inside out basically," he added, as he showed ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan bruises all over his arms and wrists.
That's where USF Health's new Neuro-Cardiac Program stepped in. It's a partnership that Mohanty helped develop.
It's a team consisting of doctors from both USF Health's Cardiovascular Science and the Neurology Department working together to figure out a way to stop Green from developing blood clots.
"So this pocket in patients with rhythm disorders, 95% of the clots that form, form within this pocket," Mohanty said, as he pointed to a specific area of the heart on a diagram on his desk.
So Mohanty and other surgeons installed a device called the "Watchman" that would allow Green to come off blood thinners for good.
"This is a device that allows us to block off this appendage, non-surgically. This is placed by catheter-based techniques or small tubes, through vessels in the legs, sometimes in the arms. And this allows us to block this appendage off such that, it's as if it never existed," Mohanty explained.
Green was able to witness this new medical advancement unfold firsthand.
"It's an experience because, through most of it, I was awake. And you can watch it on like a TV screen, where he's going. He takes the wire to implant the stent. He takes a wire and puts it through your groin, and it goes all the way up into your heart and he implants things," Green said.
Green was so confident in the skills of the doctors and nurses at TGH, he drove extra miles just to be in their care.
"I traveled 40 to 45 minutes to get to TGH rather than coming here to a closer hospital, which is really three miles down the road, only because I have such faith in the organization," Green said.
That faith paid off, as Green can finally come off blood thinners with no future risk of stroke.
"I'm very happy to have gotten him to a point where I think he's going to be a lot better off," Mohanty added.
Green is thankful to the doctors, nurses and staff at TGH and USF for saving his life, especially Dr. Mohanty.
"He pushed for me to go in there. And for that, I'm eternally grateful," Green said with a smile.
For more information on USF Health's Neuro-Cardiac Program, click here.