Heal the Heart

WSVN — Joanne Alleva has always enjoyed being active. Joanne Alleva: "Snowmobiling, ice skating, skiing, crafts, swimming."But recently, she just wasn't feeling like herself.Joanne Alleva: "I was having heaviness in my chest, every night at about the same time."One night the pressure in her chest got worse and she was having trouble breathing.Joanne Alleva: "It was just like somebody put sandbags on my chest, just very heavy."Joanne went to the ER and had a CT scan. That's when doctors told her the frightening news.Joanne Alleva: "It was a hole in the heart."Dr. Alexander Llanos: "The condition is called Atrial Septal Defect. It's a congenital heart condition."Atrial septal defect is a hole in the heart that causes abnormal blood flow between the top chambers, giving patients heart palpitations, shortness of breath and chest discomfort. Although some people have no symptoms at all. Dr. Alexander Llanos: "A lot of patients can have this defect and be completely unaware."If the defect goes untreated it could lead to serious problems.Joanne Alleva: "In time I would have gone into congestive heart failure."So surgeons at Holy Cross Hospital used a new procedure to close the hole in her heart instead of open heart surgery. They guided a tube through the groin and inserted a tiny device that looks like a clam shell, into the heart to close the hole.Dr. Alexander Llanos: "With time the device ends up becoming a part of the heart."Doctors say patients recover much faster because there's no major incision .. many going home the next day.Joanne Alleva: "I'm good to go… better than good."Joanne is back on her feet and even exercising again she feels the procedure has given her a second chance. Joanne Alleva: "It can be taken care of and it can save your life."Doctors say most people are diagnosed with a hole in the heart in childhood. If so, make sure you are closely monitored by a cardiologist.FOR MORE INFORMATION:The Jim Moran Heart & Vascular Centerat Holy Cross Hospital:Tel: (954) 229-7970www.holycrossheart.com