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Emily Papa's Story

 Emily Papa

"When you put your trust in a good doctor,
your health improves."

Emily Papa loves to shop, bowl, play cards and spend time with her friends. Yet, her heart was compromised by cardiomyopathy, a disease which weakens the heart muscle. "My heart just wasn't pumping that well anymore," she said. "I was always so exhausted."

Emily's cardiologist, Jeffrey Leppo, MD, referred her to Peter Hahn, MD, a cardiologist at Berkshire Medical Center with advanced training in electrophysiology. Dr. Hahn explained that implanting an ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) would help protect Emily from a lethal complication of her impaired heart function known as Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).  SCA strikes down more than 250,000 people each year in the US alone, and patients often have little or no warning.  Unlike a heart attack, which is caused by a blockage in an artery that supplies blood and oxygen to the heart, SCA is caused by an electrical disturbance that causes the heart to beat so rapidly that it cannot effectively pump any blood to the rest of the body, usually causing immediate loss of consciousness and ultimately, death.

An ICD is an electronic device that constantly monitors heart rate and rhythm. When it detects a very fast, abnormal heart rhythm, it delivers an electric shock to the heart muscle. This causes the heart to come out of the abnormal rhythm, and then resume beating normally beat again.

"Dr. Hahn makes eye contact with you," Emily said. "He explains everything so well. I was completely reassured and felt very safe in his hands." The procedure was scheduled and Emily was released from the hospital the same day.

That was three years ago. Since then, Emily has been back to see Dr. Hahn to ensure the defibrillator is working appropriately. While each check-up has been positive, the proof is in her better quality of life and far greater vitality, which is due to vigilant follow-up and excellent medical therapy provided by her primary cardiologist, Dr. Leppo, who works closely with Dr. Hahn.

"I feel good," she said. "I am so fortunate that Dr. Hahn is at BMC. When he tells me something, I believe him and I let him take care of me. When you put your trust in a good doctor, your health improves."

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