Heart failure occurs when the pumping action of the heart becomes less powerful, which slows blood circulation throughout the body, and can result in blood back-up in the lungs and legs. It may develop gradually over several years, or quickly after a heart attack or cardiovascular disease.
“You can get severely swollen legs or fluid in your lungs,” E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says. “Breathing becomes difficult. You can’t lie down at night. Walking a few feet is almost impossible.”
Every year, thousands of people suffer heart damage and are put on transplant waiting lists. In 2003, Andrea, now 41, began suffering from fatigue, loss of appetite and swollen legs, and was diagnosed with a virus. Three years later, her symptoms returned, she had trouble breathing and experienced an abnormally rapid heart rate. Doctors diagnosed her with an enlarged heart and said she needed a pacemaker. “I was shocked,” she says. “I’m healthy. I’m good. I’ve never been sick.”
Following an eight-hour procedure, Andrea was told that her heart was severely damaged and she needed a transplant. See how a breakthrough technology helped keep Andrea’s new heart beating while she waited for it. And, hear her powerful message to her donor.
Four-thousand patients are added to the organ transplant list annually, and every day, 18 people will die waiting for a match. The Doctors debate whether the sale of organs should be legal. Where do you stand? Tell us!
• Learn how you can become an organ donor.
• Waiting on a heart: How to save a life.
Breakthrough Thyroid Surgery
The thyroid gland produces and stores hormones that help regulate heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and metabolism. Thyroid hormones are essential for proper cellular function throughout the body. A problematic thyroid is often associated with weight gain or weight loss.
Last year, 17-year-old Rachel, an aspiring model, began suffering from extreme fatigue, bouts of dizziness and often felt like she was choking. She was diagnosed with an enlarged left thyroid mass, which usually requires a surgical procedure that leaves a scar on the neck. “I was in complete shock when [the doctor] told me,” Rachel says. “I was just really scared to have the thyroid taken out. The only thing I could think about is not being able to model anymore and getting made fun of because I have a big, ol’ scar on my neck.”
To avoid leaving a visible scar on Rachel’s neck, otolaryngologist Dr. David J. Terris performed a robotic facelift thyroid surgery, a new procedure that creates an incision behind the ear to conceal the scar, and a robot is used to remove the thyroid gland. Learn how the procedure is performed, and see how Rachel has recovered.
“I feel great,” Rachel says. “I feel confident.”
• Dr. Travis demonstrates how your thyroid affects your body.