Dave Gilbert now is going on more photo expeditions, and is able to return to his love of kayaking.
New lease on life
Heart Specialty Associates, Sleep Disorder Center deliver
These days, Dave Gilbert wakes up feeling refreshed and energetic.
“My wife asked me how it feels to look younger than I did 5 to 10 years ago,” said Dave, a professional photographer and media producer who recently celebrated his 60th birthday.
A year ago, Dave suffered from fatigue, and returned home from work each day physically exhausted. He chalked it up to age until he began having sleep problems, exacerbated by problems with his breathing when he lay down. His doctor, Brad Bernhard, M.D., at Southwest Medical Center, administered an EKG and, after much arm twisting, convinced him to seek further testing immediately.
“Dave showed up in terrible heart failure in May 2012,” recalled cardiologist David Dobmeyer, M.D. “He had a heart pumping efficiency of 20 percent – in normal people it’s 60 percent – and his heart had become enlarged.”
Dave’s heart had been weakened by a virus, but his skepticism remained healthy. After researching his potential doctors’ qualifications and asking many questions about his care, Dave gave the okay to the St. Anthony’s team of Dr. Dobmeyer, electrophysiologist-cardiologist Greg Botteron, M.D., the staff of St. Anthony’s Heart Specialty Associates, pulmonologist Kirk Nelson, D.O., the staff of St. Anthony’s Sleep Disorder Center, the staff of Cardiac Rehab and the Heart Failure Clinic. Dave underwent cardiac catheterization and received a biventricular Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator.
A sleep study confirmed Dave was suffering from sleep apnea, and he was fitted with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when a person stops breathing during sleep because his or her airway collapses and prevents air from getting into the lungs. Left untreated, it is known to cause high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
To continue his rehab, Dave built a small gym in the basement of his Webster Groves home. His prognosis is good, Dr. Dobmeyer said.
“Everyone I came into contact with at St. Anthony’s, from the docs to the nurses, to the technicians and aides – each truly made a difference in my life, giving me a second chance,” Dave said. “I’m now back at work and moving forward.”
St. Anthony's Sleep Disorder Center
Continued Cardiac Care
For follow-up care, Dave Gilbert was enrolled in St. Anthony’s Heart Failure Clinic, which seeks to improve patients’ quality of life and reduce hospitalizations. Nurse practitioners follow up with patients, monitoring symptoms such as fluid buildup, and educating them on diet and exercise. Cardiologist Charles Carey, M.D., is medical director of St. Anthony’s Heart Failure Clinic, which:
“Patients in the heart failure program are monitored for life,” said nurse practitioner Vijayalakshmi Divakaran, coordinator of the Heart Failure Clinic.“That speaks to the lifelong nature of the disease.”
The staff also coordinated a plan of care with Dave’s other doctors and his wife, Karen.
“We’re treating the patients, in essence, to be partners with us in their care and management,” said cardiologist David Dobmeyer, M.D. “Dave took an immense interest in heart failure, and became an expert in managing his heart care. That made our job a lot easier, and contributed to the success of his therapy.”
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