Judy’s Husband was Having a Stroke

Posted on : 12-15-2014 | By : tsimons | In : Heart Health, Stroke Care, Success Stories, Video
Judy and Wayne Waddell can enjoy the holidays because he was in the right place when he suffered a stroke earlier this year.

Judy and Wayne Waddell can enjoy the holidays because he was in the right place when he suffered a stroke earlier this year.

Wayne Waddell was getting ready to go home from the hospital when he suffered a stroke on May 29, 2014. Just days before, paramedics had brought the Lockport resident to Silver Cross Hospital after experiencing a cardiac arrhythmia. This resulted in Wayne having a defibrillator placed to protect his heart from the rhythm happening again. While Wayne was eating lunch, his wife, Judy, noticed that something was not right. He was trying to eat his soup using his fingers. His face had begun to droop, and couldn’t communicate. Judy quickly called the nurse and within seconds, he was surrounded by a Code Stroke Team.

“I really don’t remember much except seeing a lot of people in the room,” said Wayne.

Luckily, Dr. Kathleen McCahill, Medical Director of Silver Cross Hospital’s Stroke Program, was in the hallway outside Wayne’s room and rushed in to help. After a quick evaluation, she identified the stroke and called Dr. Harish Shownkeen, who took the 75-year-old to the Neuro Interventional Lab.  Using cerebral angiography, Dr. Shownkeen was able to locate the clogged artery in Wayne’s brain causing the stroke and then drive a tiny suction catheter through his arteries to the blood clot. Using that suction catheter he was able to pull out the clot and restore blood flow, preventing permanent damage.

“Wayne was very lucky. If he had been anywhere when his stroke occurred, the outcome could have been much different,” said Dr. Shownkeen, Medical Director of the Neuro Interventional Program at Silver Cross Hospital. “Since he just had surgery and could not safely receive clot busting drugs, this was his only chance.”

After a short hospital stay, Wayne was discharged under the care of a Silver Cross Home Health nurse. Excited about getting his health back on track, Wayne attended physical therapy and even continued his exercise regimen at a local gym.

“I have worked out regularly over the past 15 years, which may be why I am doing so well. You would never know that I had a stroke,” comments Wayne. “Judy and I recently took a trip to the Dominican Republic, and I feel great.”

Are you at risk for a stroke?  Find out by taking a free Stroke Risk Assessment


Tips to Avoid a Christmas Tree Fire

Posted on : 12-12-2014 | By : tsimons | In : Emergency, Health Tips, News

stxmco001christmas_tree__fireplace-800x333According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), each year, fire departments respond to an average of 210 structure fires caused by Christmas trees. Carefully decorating Christmas trees can keep your home and loved ones safe. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that approximately 15,000 people are treated in emergency rooms every holiday season for injuries related to Christmas trees and holiday decorating.

“The last thing anyone wants in their home is a Christmas tree-related fire and end up in the emergency room hurt,” says Daniel Checco, D.O., emergency medicine physician at the Silver Cross Emergency Care Center in Homer Glen. “Although if they find themselves seriously injured from a burn, seek medical attention immediately.”
Follow these Christmas tree safety tips to keep the holiday season safe for all:

Picking the Tree
•  If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.
•  Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.

Placing the Tree
•  Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1″ – 2″ from the base of the trunk.
•  Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
•  Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
•  Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.

Lighting the Tree
•  Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
•  Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect.
•  Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
•  Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

After Christmas
Get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.

Emergency Care Nearby
Even with the utmost caution, Christmas-related injuries can still occur. It is good to know peace of mind is just minutes away at the Silver Cross Emergency Care Center located at 143rd and Bell Rd. in Homer Glen. Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the Center is staffed with board certified emergency medicine physicians and nurses.  Located in the same building is the Silver Cross Health Center offering MRI, CT, X-ray, Ultrasound, EKG and laboratory services. A physician’s order is required. To request an appointment for a test, click here or call (815) 300-7076. There are also several primary and specialty physician offices and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross.



I Matter: Give the Gift of Flowers

Posted on : 12-09-2014 | By : tsimons | In : Business Sponsors, Discounts, Heart Health, I Matter Benefits, Mammography, screening

Flowers can be a brilliant way to decorate your home during the holidays. They bring a more natural feel to a room’s décor than some ornaments and decorations. You can also use flowers to add color to the table on Christmas Day and can play a huge part in your festive decorating.

Here are 10 Christmas flowers you should have in your home this year or send to someone special.

  1. imagesCAGSRXU2Roses
  2. Poinsettias
  3. Chrysanthemums
  4. Orchids
  5. Carnations
  6. Lilies
  7. Anemone
  8. Lisianthus
  9. Calla Lily
  10. Hyacinths

Now you can save 5-10% off every bouquet or arrangement with the following florists when you present your I Matter card—not only at Christmastime, but all year long. Consider it our gift to you for taking care of yourself by getting your annual mammogram and/or heart screening.

If you don’t have an I Matter card, you can sign-up for this free rewards program today. Next time you come to Silver Cross Hospital for your health screening, you will receive your card. It is that easy.

Request an appointment for a screening online or call (815) 300-7076. A physician’s order is required for a mammogram.

Childerguild Raises over $186,000 for Silver Cross at Ball

Posted on : 12-09-2014 | By : tsimons | In : Events, News, Video
Childerguild Members

Childerguild Members

Over 480 friends of Silver Cross Hospital attended the 86th Annual Childerguild Ball November 22 at the Odyssey Country Club and enjoyed wonderful food and dancing. The premier event of the holiday season raised over $186,000 which will be used to support women’s and children’s programs and services at Silver Cross Hospital.

The annual tradition of the Childerguild Ball began in 1928 as a fundraiser for the Obstetrics and Pediatrics departments at Silver Cross Hospital and keeps going strong thanks to the commitment of the members of Childerguild and to the many friends of the hospital who contribute to make this event a great success year after year. This year, Pam Prezek and Gael O’Brienco-chaired the Ball. Their committee included: Robin Hartney, Ellen Moran, Dianne White and Jeanne Quigley.

As a prelude to the dinner, the hospital awarded medals of excellence to two prominent community service and healthcare minded individuals.

ALEXANDER, FREDThis year’s Silver Cross Sehring Medal of Excellence was awarded to infectious disease physician  Fred Alexander, M.D.   Dr. Alexander has diligently served the healthcare community for over 35 years. During his career, Dr Alexander spent much time researching the rapid diagnosis and therapy of respiratory infections. Dr. Alexander and his wife were instrumental in founding the Trinity Christian School where he has served as Chairman of the school’s Board for 20 years. Dr. Alexander has also participated in several international medical mission trips.  During each of these visits, the group spent a week providing medical care in underprivileged areas in Honduras, Bolivia, and Ecuador.

BJGSilver Cross also honored Br. James Gaffney, FSC, with the Sangmeister Medal of Excellence for the many hours he has unselfishly given of his time to improve the quality of education for area residents. For the past 26 years, his vision has transformed the university into a world class educational institution.  Through his leadership, he has elevated Lewis University to be the seventh largest private, not-for-profit university in Illinois. During his tenure, enrollment has tripled to nearly 6,600 students. But what he is most proud of is the opportunity to provide his students a unique college experience that infuses the Catholic and Lasallian Mission into every aspect of University life. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition, preparing students to become intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, socially responsible and globally connected.

The Silver Cross Foundation is accepting nominations through Dec. 31, 2014 for the 2015 Silver Cross Medals of Excellence.  For more information, call (815) 300-7105.

The 2015 Childerguild Ball will be held Saturday, November 21 and the location is to be determined.

VIDEO:  Fred Alexander, MD – Silver Cross Sehring Medal of Excellence

VIDEO:  Br. James Gaffney – Silver Cross Sangmeister Medal of Excellence


Frankfort Fire Chief on the Job after Back Surgery

Posted on : 12-02-2014 | By : tsimons | In : Bone Health, News, Rehabilitation, Silver Cross Neuroscience Institute
Dr. Thomas Hurley, neurosurgeon at Silver Cross Hospital, shows Frankfort Fire Chief Jim Grady where exactly he relieved the pressure on Jim’s herniated disc and spinal cord.

Dr. Thomas Hurley, neurosurgeon at Silver Cross Hospital, shows Frankfort Fire Chief Jim Grady where exactly he relieved the pressure on Jim’s herniated disc and spinal cord.

Jim Grady has spent 38 years as a volunteer and career firefighter.  He has experienced it all—from flashovers to extrications to vehicle, structure, fuel, and large field fires.  But over time, the job had taken a toll on his body to the point where he was in constant pain, specifically in his legs.  Jim suffered lumbar degenerative disc disease and lumbar spinal stenosis—both normal wear-and-tear effects of aging.  He also had a herniated disc. 

“I tried just about everything including spinal injections with very little relief,” said the 61-year-old Frankfort Fire Protection District Chief.  “I finally decided it was time to take the next step and consider a permanent solution to stop the pain once and for all.” 

Jim had a MRI performed at nearby Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox.  After consulting with the fire department’s physician, he took the results and went to see Thomas Hurley, M.D., neurosurgeon with Cadence Physician Group now part of Northwestern Medicine at Silver Cross Hospital. With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Hurley specializes in traumatic spine disorders, fusion, and minimally invasive procedures.  He has been consistently recognized as a “Top Doc” at Silver Cross Hospital for outstanding patient satisfaction and is a past president of the Will-Grundy Medical Society.

“I had heard good things about Dr. Hurley from my doctor and co-workers.  And they were all true,” said the 61-year old.  “He spent nearly two hours with my wife, Bobbi, and I talking through my medical history and explaining the entire surgical process until we felt confident in how everything would go.  My biggest concern was how long it would take to heal. I wanted to get back on my feet as soon as possible.”

“Interestingly, most of Jim’s pain was on the left side of his body, specifically his left leg; however the tests showed that his herniated disc was on the right side of his spine,” said Dr. Hurley.  “I try to spend as much time as possible with my patients gathering the facts so we can rule out all conservative treatments before considering surgery.  In Jim’s case, surgery was really the only option.”

Complex Low Back Surgery with No Complications

On Aug. 4, 2014, Dr. Hurley performed a laminotomy to relieve the pressure on Jim’s spinal cord and to treat his herniated disc.  He followed that with a laminectomy to alleviate Jim’s leg pain caused by the lumbar spinal stenosis. Also known as decompression surgery, the laminectomy enlarged Jim’s spinal canal to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerves by removing the lamina, which is the back part of the vertebra (bone) that covers the spinal canal.  Laminectomy is generally used only when more-conservative treatments such as medication, physical therapy or injections have failed to relieve symptoms.

Dr. Hurley visited Jim frequently during the three days he spent in Silver Cross’ surgical patient care unit, which is ranked in the Top 1% in the nation for patient satisfaction according to Press Ganey.

“Everyone was so friendly from my first office visit, through pre-op, through discharge,” Jim said.  “Dr. Hurley and the entire staff—from the nurses to the (Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross) physical therapists who took good care of me while in the hospital, were extremely helpful, enthusiastic and upbeat.  They made sure that everything was set when I went home and that I had no complications.”

Back to Work with a Positive Outlook

After a short recuperation at home and a few weeks of physical therapy, Jim was able to able to return to some of his administrative duties with the Frankfort Fire Department just 4 weeks after his back surgery.

“I give Jim a lot of credit,” said Dr. Hurley.  “He is proactive when it comes to his health, very active and physically fit, which goes a long way when you are undergoing such a complex procedure.  Plus having a positive attitude always helps in the recovery process. Jim truly is a hero in every sense.”

“It will take some time to rebuild muscle, but overall I am feeling great,” comments Jim.  “Oohrah to Team Silver Cross!” 

For more information on back pain treatment options or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Thomas Hurley, call (815) 723-4387.

I Matter Discount: FnA Bicycles

Posted on : 12-02-2014 | By : tsimons | In : Discounts, I Matter Benefits

At some point, every kid (young or old) wants a shiny, new bike for Christmas. So why not make someone’s holiday and save a little cash at the same time. You can save 5-10% at FnA Bicycles in New Lenox when using your I Matter member discount. At FnA, they carry the best Felt® bicycle models for any riding style and budget including:

  • fna_pics_2013BMX
  • Hybrid
  • Lifestyle
  • Mountain
  • Road
  • And Tri

Or, if your current bike needs a little TLC, FnA offers repairs and maintenance service. In fact, they sell tubes and tires for just $5 plus the cost of parts. FnA is conveniently located inside Motorcycle Medic at 1303 S. Schoolhouse Rd., New Lenox. Click for directions.

Gift that Keeps on Giving

This holiday season – and all year long, when you donate any new, used, malnourished or under-maintained bicycle, FnA will service them making them safe and ride worthy. They will then donate the bikes to families, kids or adults without means to purchase their own.

For more information on how to donate or information on bicycles in stock, call (815) 717-8599.

Need an I Matter Discount Card?

IMatter Discount CardIf you are not an I Matter member, you can sign-up for free online or by calling 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).  When you come to Silver Cross Hospital for your annual mammogram or heart screening, you will receive your I Matter discount card. It’s that easy. Plus throughout the year, you will receive valuable health information, invitations to special events, and deals and discounts at over 100 local businesses.  Taking care of yourself really is rewarding!

Taking Control of Your Health: Prevention & Treatment of Colon Cancer

Posted on : 12-01-2014 | By : tsimons | In : Cancer, colon cancer, Health Tips, News, screening

GAMAGAMI, REZASubmitted by R.A.Gamagami, Colorectal Cancer Specialist

Did you know that colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in men and the third most diagnosed cancer in women? The American Cancer Society recommends regular screenings, beginning at age 50, as the risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age.  Polyps found and removed early during a colonoscopy screening can prevent the formation of colon cancer. This makes screening one of the most critical ways to prevent and treat colon cancer. Some people are at a higher risk and should be screened earlier, including those with a personal or family history of inflammatory bowel disease, polyps, or ovarian, endometrial or breast cancer. Furthermore, anybody having symptoms such as rectal bleeding or blood in the stool, change in bowel pattern, bloating, weight loss; and/or abdominal pain should undergo a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer.

260x195_BCS_DidYouKnow_03Additionally, it is important for men and women to be screened earlier who have a family history of colon cancer.  If your mother, grandfather, and sister had colorectal cancer, particularly before age 50, there is a chance that you may get it too. Over the years, researchers have determined that certain colorectal cancers are known to be caused by inherited gene mutations, or abnormalities. These inherited gene mutations are suspected when several generations of a family have colorectal cancer.


In the earliest stages of colorectal cancer, polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy. Early-stage superficial cancers that are not deep can also be removed where the cancer is cut out via the rectum, avoiding the need for cutting through the abdominal wall.

Surgical removal of the area(s) of the colon where tumors are present (“resection”), along with any affected surrounding tissue is the standard initial treatment for potentially curable colorectal cancers (cancers that have not spread beyond the colon or lymph nodes). Here at Silver Cross Hospital, we can do this robotically using the da Vinci® robot. The robot allows the surgeon to easily connect the two ends of the colon after the cancer has been removed with a few tiny incisions, rather than the one long incision used in traditional open colon surgery. Robotic surgery allows most patients to benefit from minimal pain, low blood loss, fast recovery, and a shorter hospital stay with reduced complications.

For advanced cancer, we use drug and radiation therapy in addition to surgery in different combinations and sequences.

Choosing a qualified, experienced surgeon is critical to colon cancer surgical outcomes, and choosing a hospital experienced in these procedures is also paramount.

Colon cancer, while a formidable disease, is a very preventable cancer with the proper use of screening by colonoscopy accompanied by healthy lifestyle choices including a high-fiber, low-fat diet and regular exercise.

Get screened!

If you are interested in being screened for colon cancer, or are seeking treatment for a colon cancer diagnosis, you may schedule an appointment with Dr. Gamagami by calling his office at (815) 717-8730.

Silver Cross Home Health Care Ranks in Top 100 for Seniors

Posted on : 12-01-2014 | By : tsimons | In : News

Home Health image 1Silver Cross Home Health today announced that it has been named a Top Agency of the 2014 HomeCare Elite, a recognition of the top-performing home health agencies in the United States. Now in its ninth year, the HomeCare Elite identifies the top 25% of Medicare-certified agencies and highlights the top 100 and top 500 agencies overall. Winners are ranked by an analysis of publicly available performance measures in quality outcomes, best practice (process measure) implementation, patient experience (Home Health CAHPS®), quality improvement and consistency, and financial performance. In order to be considered, an agency must be Medicare-certified and have data for at least one outcome in Home Health Compare. Out of 9,994 agencies considered, 2,501 are elite.

The award is sponsored by OCS HomeCare by National Research Corporation, the leading provider of home health metrics and analytics, and DecisionHealth, publisher of the most respected independent newsletter in the home health profession, Home Health Line.

“The 2014 HomeCare Elite winners demonstrate a commitment to providing high quality care in their home health communities and we recognize them for their remarkable achievements,” said Mary Oakes, Senior Vice President of Post-Acute at National Research. “We congratulate Silver Cross Hospital on being recognized as a top home care agency.”

Donna Yack, Director of the Continuum of Services and Home Health Care at Silver Cross Hospital credits strong dedication to teamwork and high quality standards with the company’s ability to rank as one of the HomeCare Elite. She said, “Silver Cross is thrilled to be recognized for the eighth year in a row for our quality successes which are a direct result from our dedicated team of Home Health professionals. By continuing to enhance the quality of home healthcare we provide to our patients, we can ensure to deliver the best healthcare experience to our patients in the comfort of their own homes.”

“HomeCare Elite recognition is a significant acknowledgement. In today’s healthcare ecosystem, it is imperative that our seniors have access to quality home healthcare in order to ensure better patient outcomes and improve overall cost, and therefore, home healthcare continues to remain an integral part of the care continuum. The winners of the HomeCare Elite Award are proving that a heightened focus on clinical outcomes, patient experience, and financial management lead to success,” said Marci Heydt, Product Manager for the post-acute care business group of Decision Health.

Decking the Halls got your back in a knot? Avoid Injuries.

Posted on : 11-25-2014 | By : tsimons | In : Emergency, Health Tips, Rehabilitation, screening

As you trim your Christmas tree and drape outside twinkling lights around your home this holiday season, be mindful as you stretch to hang your decorations not to injure your back. However if you already are experiencing persistent lower back pain after attaching Santa’s sleigh to your roof, help from The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) at Silver Cross Hospital in Homer Glen may have just the right answer for you to get relief.

Free Low Back Pain Screening

Schedule a free screening and treatment recommendation by an RIC physical therapist for individuals experiencing aches, pain, spasm, stiffness or weakness of the lower back. For more information about RIC at Silver Cross or to schedule a free low back screening at the Homer Glen facility located at 143rd St. and Bell Road, call (815) 300-6288.

“By coming to Silver Cross patients have access to specialized care plans similar to those that are offered at RIC’s downtown Chicago location,” said Valerie Paluszak, Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital. “We are fortunate to have such highly trained and experienced physical, occupational, and speech therapists working at Silver Cross who truly make patients’ treatment successful enabling them to thrive so they can return to their daily routines and enjoy all the festivities of the season.”642x361_Holiday_Safety_Tips

How to Prevent Lower Back Injuries

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke offers these quick tips to a healthier back.

Following any period of prolonged inactivity, begin a program of regular low-impact exercises. Speed walking, swimming, or stationary bike riding 30 minutes a day can increase muscle strength and flexibility. Yoga can also help stretch and strengthen muscles. Ask your physician for a list of low-impact exercises appropriate for your age and designed to strengthen lower back and abdominal muscles.

  • Always stretch before any physical activity.
  • Don’t slouch when standing or sitting. When standing, keep your weight balanced on your feet. Your back supports weight most easily when curvature is reduced.
  • At work, make sure your work surface is at a comfortable height for you.
  • Sit in a chair with good lumbar support and proper position and height for the task. Keep your shoulders back. Switch sitting positions often and periodically walk around or gently stretch muscles to relieve tension. A pillow or rolled-up towel placed behind the small of your back can provide some lumbar support. If you must sit for a long period of time, rest your feet on a low stool.
  • Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
  • Sleep on your side to reduce any curve in your spine. Always sleep on a firm surface.
  • Ask for help when transferring an ill or injured family member from a reclining to a sitting position.
  • Don’t try to lift objects too heavy for you. Lift with your knees, pull in your stomach muscles, and keep your head down and in line with your straight back. Keep the object close to your body. Do not twist when lifting.
  • Maintain proper nutrition to reduce and prevent excessive weight, especially weight around the waistline that taxes lower back muscles. A diet with sufficient daily intake of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D helps to promote new bone growth.
  • If you smoke, quit. Smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine and causes the spinal discs to degenerate.

Slowing Down a Fast Beating Heart

Posted on : 11-19-2014 | By : tsimons | In : Events, Health Tips, Heart Health, News
Michael Trovato, Jr. came back to visit with the some of folks who staff from Silver who cared for him 6during his heart ablation procedure to treat his Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib). From left to right are Brendan Casey, Manager of Cardiology, Endoscopy, and Interventional Radiology; Cindy Jansen, RT; Sunil Shroff, M.D., internal medicine and cardiovascular disease physician; patient Michael Trovato, Jr.; Peyton Webb, RN; and Bob Dominik, RT.

Michael Trovato, Jr. came back to visit with the some of folks who staff from Silver who cared for him 6during his heart ablation procedure to treat his Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib). From left to right are Brendan Casey, Manager of Cardiology, Endoscopy, and Interventional Radiology; Cindy Jansen, RT; Sunil Shroff, M.D., internal medicine and cardiovascular disease physician; patient Michael Trovato, Jr.; Peyton Webb, RN; and Bob Dominik, RT.

For 59 year-old Michael Trovato, Jr. his life began to dramatically change 13 months ago. His heart began racing, he couldn’t sleep, his energy level was low, and he suffered from severe shortness of breath. Life as he knew it began to stop. “As the months went by, I couldn’t even golf or bowl any more – two hobbies that I avidly have done for years,” said the Tinley Park resident . “My health declined so poorly that I was unable to work 6 months prior to having my heart ablation procedure at Silver Cross Hospital. But now, I’m thrilled to report that I am a new man thanks to the fantastic care I received from Dr. Shroff and the staff at Silver Cross. My heart rate has slowed down, I’m sleeping 6 to 7 hours a night and I’m enjoying an active lifestyle once again.”

Michael’s family practice physician referred him to cardiac electrophysiologist Dr. Sunil Shroff who immediately diagnosed Michael with Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib).

For the over 3 million people in the U.S. who live with A-Fib, every day life is a challenge.  And for Michael Trovato, Jr. everyday life became overwhelming.

“After trying various medications that didn’t offer me any relief, I knew I needed to do something to improve my health,Michael said. “I am so glad to have met such an experienced and knowledgeable doctor as Dr. Shroff who offered me a better solution by performing an ablation of my heart.”

What is Atrial Flutter/Atrial Fibrillation?

Electrical system problems of the heart may make the atria beat faster than normal. “If the atria beats quickly, but still evenly, it is called atrial flutter. If the atria beats very quickly and unevenly, it is called atrial fibrillation, which was what Michael suffered from for over a year,” says Dr. Sunil Shroff, cardiologist at Silver Cross Hospital who specializes in electrophysiology.

With atrial fibrillation, cells in the atria (upper chambers of the heart) send fast, irregular and uncoordinated electrical signals to the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart). These extra signals make the atria beat very quickly and unevenly. As a result, the atria may beat so fast and unevenly that it may quiver instead of contracting fully for each heartbeat.

“If the atria does not contract, it doesn’t move enough blood into the ventricles. This is what leads to symptoms such as dizziness and weakness,” said Dr. Shroff. “So blood that isn’t kept moving can pool and form clots in the atria. These clots can move into other parts of the body and cause serious problems, such as a stroke.”

Common symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation are palpitations (a fluttering, fast heartbeat), weakness or tiredness, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, dizziness or lightheadedness, or fainting spells.

What Causes this to Occur?

Hypertension (high blood pressure) and valvular heart disease- especially mitral stenois and mitral insufficiency- increase the risk of atrial fibrillation. Many people (up to 50% of patients) get A-Fib after open-heart surgery. Extreme emotional or physical stress such as severe infections, severe pain, and thyroid problems can trigger A-Fib as well. Some cases have been reported where caffeine (in coffee, tea, sodas) and chocolate (in large amounts) also trigger episodes of A-fib. Also, many times atrial fibrillation has no known precipitating cause.

Learn More

Come learn more about A-Fib and the latest treatment options available such as ablation of the heart at a free lecture hosted by Silver Cross Hospital and Dr. Shroff. Slowing Down A Fast Beating Heart will be held Wednesday, December 10 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Silver Cross Hospital Conference Center, Pavilion A, 1890 Silver Cross Blvd, New Lenox. Register to attend online or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).