In the series finale, Bill Fitzpatrick and Jack O’Brien reflect on their respective heart ailments and hear cardiovascular experts’ thoughts about the future of patient care.

A special thanks to the guests throughout the series, including Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, Ajay J. Kirtane, MD, SM, Chen Fang, PharmD, RPh, Dr. Rohit Vuppuluri and the Fitzpatrick family. 

Me and My Heart was jointly produced by MM+M and Cardiology Advisor.

To listen to the other episodes in this series, click here.

If you have suggestions for story ideas, feedback on the series or other comments, send them to us at [email protected]

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Note: The MM+M Podcast uses speech-recognition software to generate transcripts, which may contain errors. Please use the transcript as a tool but check the corresponding audio before quoting the podcast.

So why do we do this? Why do we put all this work into this talk to all these people hours of editing and refining and all that sort of stuff. Why did we do this? I wanted to tell my story in the

hopes that I inspire people to listen to their bodies. If something doesn’t feel right. It probably isn’t get to the doctor get checked out. Make sure you get the help that you need.

I also wanted to inform people who might be going through this and myself included because I was kind of in shock the entire time. You know, I I didn’t really have time to ask questions to my doctor or the doctors because my mind was just going in a hundred different directions. So I think this is a great opportunity to get the reassurance and the information from all of these medical professionals that we spoke to.

So we can find out. What can we do to prevent this? How can we live with this? What steps can be taken to get those who maybe don’t have access to help?

The help that they need the medicines they need the care. It’s all about raising awareness. Yeah awareness.

This strange

pressure built in my chest

six more months. This could have been a real heart attack her guideline. She should be receiving high-dose statins. We just need to make sure it collaterals under country sensory widely accepted

medical procedure for cardiovascular care

bill the most amazing thing about what happened to you. You’re not sick. You’re gonna be fine.

People believe that when they have heart issues, they almost feel guilty about it. Like oh if I only ate better if I only exercise more this one have happened to me and they don’t want to talk about it. It’s this shame Factor. Hi. I’m Dr. Suzanne steinbaum. I’m a preventive cardiologist with a focus on women and cardiovascular disease. I’ve been a national volunteer medical spokesperson for Go Red For Women through the American Heart Association, since it started about 20 years ago and I am the CEO and founder of a technology company that is a software platform for women’s cardiovascular health wellness and prevention called adesso but think about it when someone gets cancer, they’re survivors. They survived it’s it’s this heroic thing and heart disease. We just don’t talk about it the same.

So for the past three episodes we’ve focused on Fitz’s heart health and I’m sure that there are plenty of people that have related to it that are listening in the audience but fits is far from the only person we’ve rattle off so many stats about the millions of people are impact by heart disease or various cardiovascular ailments around this country that extends to listeners that extends to people that we know in our own lives that extends to people that are on this podcast me myself Jack O’Brien have dealt with my own share of cardiovascular issues since the age of eight. I was diagnosed with super ventricular tachycardia, which is an extra electrical charger and your heart that can basically send your heart into a rhythmia and very high high-paced beats. Sometimes without provocation. Sometimes it’s through physical exertion in my case. I was just sitting around as an eight year old and suddenly I was at 180 beats a minute my face went white and I was very nauseous and my parents brought me to the emergency room and I got an iv treatment.

And they were able to bring my heart rate back down to normal. And from that time on I was diagnosed with SVT. I had to live with it all throughout my childhood and Adolescence. I wasn’t allowed to play physical Sports so that limited me to tennis golf and quiz Bowl pretty much the only things that I could excel at and I had to take a beta blocker starting at the age of nine which kept my heart a Channel all 25 milligrams kept my heart artificially in check, but I would still have episodes. I remember we used to keep a log of the amount of times in my heart would spike and I would have these occurrences of arithmia and I think in the year 2004, it was almost 50 times. The option for an ablation was always on the table, but as they started to take down from 49 to 30 to 20, it became less and less of an issue and just something that I was cognizant of

Mmm in conjunction with Cardiology advisor a Haymarket media publication presents me and my heart

me and my heart. He is my heart me and my heart episode 4.

For those that are unfamiliar with a cardiac catheter ablation, you are unconscious for the entire procedure. And what they do is they insert a catheter through your groin and they feed it up.

Into your heart and then using radio frequency or able to burn out the section of the heart that they don’t want working. In this case, which would be the electrical charger my senior year of high school in February of 2013. I remember the date it was February 12th. So it’s fitting that it happened during heart month. I was playing basketball during study hall and I should have been studying and I took a wrong step and I immediately felt my heart.

Jump in quickly with a fast Rhythm and it was one of those things that it happened a bunch of times. I knew the flip into a handstand thought the rush of blood would fix the problem and I thought it did but then after going to the locker room changing going back to study hall. It just felt like it was just kept going and I knew it didn’t feel right. So I went to the nurse she put cuff on me to get my heart rate and it was very very high. And she said you should probably go to the doctors ago the emergency room. So I called my mom pick me up from school. We drive to the pediatricians office. They do the same thing and the cuff couldn’t even read it because it was going so fast.

So we went to the emergency room as fits it referred to earlier in the series. Nothing gets you to the front of the line quite like saying that you have a heart problem. So all the sudden I’m in the emergency room and I’ve got nurses and doctors looking at me. They finally were able to get a read in my heart rate was at 220 beats a minute.

Which is not good for those of you that haven’t picked up along the course of the series. What is it supposed to

be? What is the average

you’re arresting heart rate should be between about 50 and 100.

Yeah, that’s what

so literally can feel my heart beating out of my chest and they say that their option is to do a cardiovert which for those that may not be familiars when they bring out the paddles and they go clear and they shock your chest had to sign a waiver. My mom had to leave the room very scary scene Zapped it and it worked but while it did work they had said this is not something that you ever want to rely on because it gets less and less effectual as time goes on so they recommended that we schedule for an ablation which again had always been on the table, but we had never acted on it and we had one scheduled for March of 2013. Is that oh one time procedure. So an ablation is supposed to be a one time procedure currently. It’s about a 90% success rate and at that time in 2013. It was still above.

80% success and unfortunately, it wasn’t for me my cardiologist at Saint Peter’s Hospital in the Albany area had tried and said it was on a very difficult side of the heart didn’t necessarily work out. And so I left that procedure with a damaged electrical current but not one that was what they would deem as successful if they wanted to and they test it if they want to get my heart out of rhythm it could.

So that was frustrating go to college college break comes in December of 2013 two days before Christmas. Go back to the same Hospital same cardiologists. They try again does not work. So in one calendar year, I’ve had a cardiovert and two cardiac catheter ablations and so it didn’t work on both occasions, it only damaged but because of the location of where it was in the heart

did not work.

So still remain on the medicine still told no Sports caffeine cocaine, you know the three the three true vices in my life and just went back to living life never really considered having another ablation because I’ve been told it was damaged sure. I would happen occasionally where I would exert myself to a point where it would happen, but I was able to get back in Rhythm. I was on my medication didn’t think much of it.

Moves in New York City in the spring of 2021 and with the encouraging of my now fiancee went to find a cardiologist here and they said hey you have this we have a really good cardiologist. We recommend that would be Dr. Larry chinnits at NYU langone has procedure scheduled for July of 2021 and it was successful came out of the procedure and the doctor said that the technology had come a long way since 2013 and it was a success which obviously made me so happy because this has been something I dealt with since I was eight and suddenly I’m sitting there at 26.

Yeah. That’s a long time. It’s a long time to deal with that. Oh my I meet with the doctor at the end of July

still very much a success. They said there was no Delta wave which is what they look for in the EKG to symbolize that arithmia and so by all stretch. I was good to go until I got covid.

I got the Delta variant in August of 2021 couldn’t smell had it, you know congestion that never seemed to end and I thought that was just the extent of it until a couple weeks later. I go on a run and I come back from my run shower and my fiance and I were going to see Shakespeare in the park and sitting down I was at about a hundred ten hundred twenty beats a minute which again is slightly over what’s supposed to be but it was never coming down and I went back to my you know, routine my tricks. I tried to flip myself into a handstand try to strain and exert and try and do all that nothing doing we walked across the park to Lennox Hill Hospital. I remember pulling up Monday Night Football on my phone. So I could watch that in the emergency room and they went in and tried to figure out what these palpitations were and what you know, whether it was related to my arithmia. They said it wasn’t related to that but I told him I just had covid and they had another patience come in there that had covid related palpitations and

they held me overnight and I can tell you that at that time. I had just left a job and joined another but my health insurance I’m kicked in and so I had to making about $70,000 a year living in the biggest city in the country apply for charity care because I wasn’t gonna be able to afford $18,000 for an overnight stay in the hospital which again I think underscores. This is at the end of 2021. I think underscores the

frustrating complicated nature for

people experiencing the Healthcare System even those of us that are all too familiar with how it operates in what you should be looking for and asking that’s

insane. Yeah the stretch on top of health issues. You see this is the point of the podcast too like a lot of us have health issues that we have to deal with but then you throw the insurance thing on top of it.


you throw everything else on top of it? Just

Makes for a difficult situation. Yeah.

Bill, and I were able to get care through a number of different means self-advocacy having other people both in the provider and the employer side pushing for us to get the care that we needed.

That’s not always the case for people and I think that’s an important lesson that we need to remember from this entire series is that these issues are not unique by any stretch and it does take a certain amount of gumption and conviction and as some of our guests have noted a little bit of luck too to be able to get over these obstacles and get the care that you need.

When we think of management of heart disease, I feel like always here in our head are people in whitecos, but we can’t remember the collaborative effort that goes into like long-term management.

Chen Fang is a clinical strategist team lead and manager at Cardiology advisor a Haymarket media

publication. Even when we talk about lifestyle, it’s not just individual patient choices that can make a big change. We have to think about like do they need a nutritionist student do they need a physical therapist are there things preventing them from moving or their other factors that prevent them from eating. Well, you can think about like social determinants of health and patience in viral areas, if they’re unable to, you know, get to their doctors appointments to get their refill for the medication perhaps that’s a bigger problem than like what they’re eating that morning. I identifying all the factors that go into patient care. It’s much more complicated than like, okay, you need a prescription for XYZ. You needed like you have to think about diet. I have to think about exercise. What other

Resources does a patient need what other help do they need? Do they have a support system? Do they have?

The luxury of just not going to work that morning because of an emergency without fear of losing their job. Can someone look after their kids if they have to step away? I think sometimes we think about medicine to to micro away when you’re just looking at okay, I don’t feel well I need to get care and then I have to do this to feel better. When really it’s it’s so for dimensional because as you mentioned like life is complicated

the care that you and I received is similar because we are similar. Yeah, but if we, you know black patience Hispanic patients Asian patients women patience, they are all going through things that are entirely different than what the standard white man patient goes through

the statistics around women and heart diseases one and three women are dying of heart disease more than all cancers combine.

I have been saying that same statistic for almost 20 years and three years ago. I thought I’m going to stay in this system and continue to be part of the problem or I was going to leave and create a solution and that personally is what made me launch my technology company.

so what you’re talking to me about is

my life’s work, you know, that’s my passion. How do we change the narrative?

It’s important to recognize especially for our audience which are primarily medical marketers and communicators to understand that patience especially patients of color, especially women patients go through different challenges and face different biases as it relates to their care which contribute to their mistrust

And impact their outcomes at the end of the day. I

worked in you work, New Jersey for a bit working with a heart failure population. And the extent that we would go to make sure that

you know

does a patient have a ride to get here next week or if we if it’s very important for them to monitor their weight can they afford to scale? And if not, how can we give one to them? Where will we get the money and as an institution, there’s like entire dedicated teams to handle things like this to make sure that they can afford their medication are there special pharmacies that they can go to where their medication can be subsidized. And if not, how can we make one? There’s entire teams dedicated to address social determinants of health because it’s

It’s still obvious. When we live in a place like New York where resources are everywhere, theoretically, but even if you just

Step a little bit.

in more rural areas

But buses are a few and far between how did they get to their appointments? I’ve had patients who would wait until the last minute to go to the emergency room to get an IV drip of Lasix because they couldn’t afford a month supply of Lasix ever, but they could have time to call an ambulance to take into the hospital once a month for a Lasik trip and then not have to pay for the ambulance ride. And that’s just something happening Newark New Jersey. It’s such a complicated issue to tackle because it’s it’s all like where the money comes from. Yeah,


I don’t know how we can solve that

fortunately because heart attacks happen. So frequently, there are a lot of cath labs for instance in the United States, even in rural areas and their referral programs and transfer programs and that kind of thing to stop patients who get heart attack, but what I worry the most about so those patients will get get treated, but you kind of want to

Treat people earlier so I worry the most about are those folks who aren’t just getting basic control of things like blood pressure their cholesterol and just being told that you know, you know, maybe you know eating fast food is it’s cheap, but it’s not the it’s not the best way to live if you’re gonna prevent heart disease, so it speaks to broader socioeconomic problems, you know worldwide frankly. I’m Dr. AJ curtain a Interventional cardiologist and professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. Also an Affiliated physician for the cardiovascular research Foundation, but I think educational moments like for instance this are ways to get the word out there and it’s not just chest pressure. It may be for some people, you know indigestion that they have when they exercise it may be just this vague fatigue type symptoms this feeling of chest pressure like elephants sitting in your chest that comes from a study a cohort of patience of like, you know, white dudes from Framingham, Massachusetts.

If you have diabetes, you might not have any symptoms if you’re a woman, you might not have them and if you don’t speak English, you might not express it as chest pressure. So I think all those things come to bear and the more education that we can do just to sort of say look at yourself checked out is important the final thing. I’ll just make really quickly is that I can’t tell you how many people I see were brought in by their spouse.

You know, they’ve been complaining even the Jackson Etc. But they kind of just write it off. It’s stress. It’s whatever the spouse brings them in and then if you find, you know a lot of disease so family members can help too

Dr. I have a question for you you were talking about and this has been something that’s been mentioned by a few of the clinical experts. We’ve talked to for this series of the technology is improved so much like the first stent procedure in the United States happening like the late 70s and now to the point that fits can go in have it done and leave the hospital the same day. I’m curious. How is it gone from your your first days of dealing with patients that live with heart disease to what it is now, I can imagine it’s been one of those things where they’re able to go back to their life in a sense that maybe they weren’t able to 20

30 years ago. Yeah, so great question and I’ll give you even more historical perspective. You know, I’m obviously Indian guy and so my dad has to be a doctor, right? So yeah, so he is and he’s retired. But when he did Cardiology Fellowship, he actually came in

During my fellowship one time in the hospital watching us do a heart attack procedure. He wanted to come in. He literally came in at two in the morning bless him and he was like, he was like a kid that we just had just been you know taken to Disneyland but not because of you know, all the bells and whistles but mainly because he said when these people had heart attacks and I was a fellow we would put them in the hospital and just do bed rest and we couldn’t do anything else and so fast forward that obviously many years but it’s really remarkable what we’ve been able to do and it’s not just the treatment part. It’s also the diagnosis part. So the fact that you don’t have to wait to have a heart attack for a patient to have a heart attack to treat them


you can diagnose this earlier on with high reliability and Fidelity and then come up with the treatment plan that the patient needs. Those are really the most remarkable things the the technology component of doing an angioplasty to think that you can from artery in the wrist and manipulate a wire that is just, you know millimeters.

Thick like a millimeter thick steer it through heart arteries while you’re looking at a video screen of what’s going on and then safely implant the stent to open up the blockage as a way of avoiding a surgery is mind-blowing if you say it that way but it’s something that has become passe is something we do routinely which is why you know, I think it’s pretty cool to do what I get to do

technology and advancements.



Or look at cardiovascular disease from that place of treatment. Also when in fact we can’t do it on our own so in the big picture, I’m optimistic for the person living with heart disease.

I did want to go that last thing you brought up in terms of the Innovations and advancements and medical technology because I feel like people talk about that all the time in various disease States, obviously with Cardiology. You know, what we have at our Disposal today is not what we had 20 years ago. Now we had 40 years ago from your perspective what have been some of those biggest advancements in terms of being able to give patients that chance like you said to take life into their own hands and not look at heart disease as a death sentence if you will,

so I’m gonna answer that conversation from the place of perfection to the place of treatment.

Because I think one of the most Innovative things that have happened is we can actually early early detect.

Heart disease before manifests and that in itself hasn’t been something we’ve been able to do we can pick up endothelial dysfunction microvascular disease, which is the first stage of heart disease. We can now look inside the arteries and figure out what kind of plaque is in there. We can never do that before

as you get older into your mid 30s into your 40s. We have what’s called a coronary calcium score which corner CT scan which is not invasive way of just seeing if you have coronary calcifications in your arteries. If you do have that that is already a precursor that you’ve developed some form of plaque of the arteries and that can indicate that maybe you need to go on a cholesterol medication. Maybe you need to start worrying about your blood pressure a little bit more.

Things like that to look into my name is broth football area. I’m an Interventional cardiologist. I practice today in Chicago, Illinois. There are ways of kind of looking into it. But I think the first barrier is just getting people in to see the Physicians from the beginning. We

have technology today using Ai and whatever other things are out there that

Almost seemed impossible 20 30 40 years ago. I think the issue that we face now as a nation is like access. No, we can have the best technology but will everyone be able to get it? They need it.

We have to change the story from the treatment driven strategy to the preventive strategy.

Because of covid there’s more receptiveness around this we have to change how we’re dealing with things because the burden of healthcare is so enormous that if we don’t become a preventive driven Society this treatment driven is not working at all.

Yeah, I think for me the number one thing is early detection. The reason it is the number one mortality risk is because we aren’t detecting this early enough and we’re always finding patients that are coming in with this problem later on at the point where we can help them, but it might also be too late and then to be able to get in touch with more patients at earlier age. So if we could come up with the way that you know, all patients and their 20s and 30s at least are encouraged to go see a family physician to get blood work drawn to start checking their blood pressure to go over their risk factors and to start making those lifestyle changes as an earlier.

Which will hopefully prevent the you know Riser the you know, this increase in heart attacks down the road. But if we continue the way we’re doing things now where we’re always reacting to it. We’re never really going to change that curve. It’ll always just be the number one thing because we’re not really affecting the underlying issue and by the time we get to affect it, it’s already been too


What happens if we pick up disease so early that we can actually reverse it before it manifests?

Value-based care is really about managing those risk factors earlier preventing heart disease early diagnosing it before it develops.

I believe our Focus needs to be in those early early stages of prevention and quite frankly when you think about 80% of the time we can prevent heart disease. I think we can actually increase that statistic to 90%

if we can prevent heart disease 90% of the time think about that think about the ripple effect. And what we spend on Health Care think about the lives saved that would change everything.

for human beings across the world and the Healthcare System

I always used to say it’s heart month like but what’s gonna happen like March 1st, what we all start like going nuts and eating whatever we want, you know, and I think what you’re bringing up is the most relevant story which is

You know, how do we make people connect to this in a way that it’s going to matter to them?

And I think it’s really, you know built telling your story. Just telling your story.

I promise you there are people listening who are going to be like wait what what why did that happen? And so the awareness has to be for everyone.

Get checked know your numbers. That’s something we say through the American Heart Association know if you have high blood pressure. Guess what that matters know your family history have a conversation with your family. What’s our risks?

Check in with your doctor great. Have a good heart month.

donate support wear red all of it, but

Tell the stories keep telling your friends tell the stories you tell four people let them each tell four people and let the narrative go on.

What is your sense for the future? Because we have kind of looked at the past we’ve recounted your own past in the greater context of things.

honestly, I’m kind of


I’m hoping that people can advocate for themselves.

Like Dr. Steinbaum said keep making those calls keep pushing. I don’t feel good. I don’t feel good. But I’m kind of concerned that most of these decisions on a preventative care or any care really just like well, my cardiologist wanted me to get a nuclear stress test and it got declined from insurance. I think there’s a little too much power in the hands of insurance companies. I think we’re as patients going to be fighting for ourselves for our health along with our doctors in order to get the care that we need, which is a shame because

It’s a fight that we really shouldn’t have to be fighting. We should be able to get the care. We need without having to get declined or like you without having a lapse in your health care coverage. So you get billed thousands of dollars and on the other hand it took me a long time to be able to even get a cardiologist appointment. I can’t imagine what that’s like for people across our country. There’s a lot of things that just don’t seem like they’re in order that I think really need to be made a little bit more easier for patience. That’s what the immediate future looks like. So just keep moving forward.

Listen to your body then be your own advocate.

On behalf of mmm

and Cardiology advisor a Haymarket media publication. We’d like to thank you for listening to me and my heart. I’d like to thank all the experts for contributing their insights to this series as well. This series was co-produced by Bill Fitzpatrick and Jack O’Brien. This marks mmm’s first foray into long-form audio storytelling, but it won’t be our last if you have any suggestions for topics for us to cover in future series any feedback on me and my heart or patient stories that you want to share with us feel free to do so at [email protected].