Daniel’s Story: Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke


Many people have a lot of expectations and plans for when they retire. Daniel Merritt’s retirement appears to be a lot like the ones the majority of people envision. He’s very extremely active. He has hobbies and projects. He has a stunning historical home that is located on a beautiful property located in Hockessin, Delaware. Hockessin, Delaware area. He is a golfer four or five times per week. His wife and he, Barbara have three adult daughters and 6 grandchildren and the family gathers often in Chester County where the couple used to reside.

It seems as if things could not be more perfect than Daniel Merritt. However, as we know, things don’t always as they seem. Daniel’s retirement might not be as perfect as it seems. The year 2008 was when he started suffering from a variety of alarming symptoms and health-related incidents that would appear and disappear for a long time.

“I did not have hypertension or cholesterol levels. I was in good health. But suddenly I began experiencing shoulder pains, chest discomfort, nausea eye floaters, flushing, and other issues. I was not sure what to expect, or when to anticipate this,” Daniel recalls. “I experienced 67 incidents in the initial six-month period of 2008. A lot of them occurred while I was in bed, or asleep. Sometimes, I would wake up from a deep sleep with discomfort in my chest and neck region. I would stand up and walk around until the pain subsided.”

Daniel had a number of diagnostic tests and none were conclusive. He was fitted with the Holter monitor for about a month and a half to aid doctors in determining what was happening. The heart’s rhythms were recorded using the portable gadget, the size of a deck of cards all day, every day. The monitor can be a bit uncomfortable and has to be secured to the body at all times using adhesive patches.

In many instances, it is the case that a Holter monitor can aid doctors in making lifesaving discoveries. But the problem when watching for heart arrhythmias they tend to be sporadic and unpredictable. To identify problems the heart needs to be monitored when an event happens. Daniel didn’t experience any incidents during his time wearing the Holter monitor. Holter monitor.

Daniel’s mysterious health issues continued. On Halloween 2013 Daniel experienced two distinct instances of speaking in a slur and losing the ability to talk. “I was admitted to Chester County Hospital, and they examined me over a period of five days. It was here that I saw my cardiac surgeon Raghuram Mallya MD,” he declares. “My speech was restored, but I was told that I had two strokes. On the MRI I was able to observe the affected areas in my brain. They kind of lit up.”

The doctor prescribed him medication and he continued with his regular daily activities. However, his symptoms persist, occasionally interrupting his daily life. After just four months after his first accident, Daniel experienced another. The second time, he lost his eyesight. The loss was only temporary. He was taken to the hospital once again.

If traditional methods of testing didn’t work in the end, Dr. Mallya recommended trying newer technologies, including the Medtronic Reveal which is an insertable Cardiac Monitoring (ICM) loop system. Dr. Mallya felt the new device could detect something happening to Daniel’s heart, which could be the cause of his strokes, and maybe some of his other signs. Daniel accepted and, in July 2014, Daniel became the first patient to get the ICM installed in Chester County Hospital. The Interventional Cardiologist Richard Hui, MD, implanted the small device.

The Medtronic Reveal LINQ loop monitor is a tiny gadget roughly one-third the dimensions of as AAA battery which are put under the skin on your left chest. The device is put into position using a non-invasive procedure using local anesthesia.

“The procedure went smoothly and I was awake throughout the entire procedure,” says Daniel. “They created a tiny cut and then placed the monitor via a small plastic tube, which was smaller than old-fashioned pen refills. They took the tube out after the monitor was installed. It was that simple. Then, I noticed an insignificant bump on my chest that I could feel through my fingers however, there was nothing noticeable.”

After the ICM was installed and was able to collect data on heart rate continuously. Every night, as Daniel lay in bed, the data was transferred from the monitor on his chest to a tiny device that he kept by his bedside with Bluetooth technology. The information was then wirelessly secured and transmitted over the Internet to be analyzed by the cardiology team.

Daniel was also provided with the device, which was small enough to utilize if he encountered something that he felt his cardiologist ought to be aware of immediately. If needed, he was able to use the device to hold it over the chest monitor when he was experiencing – or imagining that he was in the midst of having an episode, and the information would be sent to the doctor right away.

He didn’t experience chest pains or other extreme symptoms in the months of July and November, while the device was in use however, he continued to experience slight discomfort on occasion. When he discovered the ICM was indeed recording 2 episodes of Atrioventricular Fibrillation (AF also known as AFib) the heart-rhythm condition, he was amazed. AFib is a rapid and irregular heartbeat that may cause blood flow issues within the body. It may cause a myriad of symptoms and may lead to strokes, blood clots, and heart disease. Fortunately, if AFib is identified medical measures can be implemented to correct the issue.

Daniel currently takes a variety of medicines that have helped to reduce some of his symptoms however, he is still experiencing some. The question of whether the medication he’s currently taking is able to solve all of his health problems or not will require longer and more medical care to answer. Further investigation and adjustments may be required.

“If the AFib was not discovered then would I have experienced more strokes? Probably. Do I want to drag one leg or arm in the wheelchair? It’s possible. If I had died, would I have survived? There’s a chance,” says Daniel. “So did that tiny gadget make a significant impact on my life? Yes, it did. It feels like we’re finally moving forward.”

Daniel Merritt listened to his body and sought solutions. He advises “Listen to and feel what your body’s telling you. Be persistent. Find out more details and then follow up with a group of doctors that you can trust. The latest technology, such as the loop monitor, is generating options that may be applicable to your circumstance. My experience was definitely affected by it.”

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