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Marcy Schleper

Top 50 Heart Hospital cares for Cold Spring woman with rare heart condition

After returning to Cold Spring from a relaxing weekend trip to Duluth on Nov. 9, 2014, Marcy Schleper, 50, was unpacking when the room started to spin and she felt a crushing chest pain. As the pain worsened, she told her husband, Dan, to call 911. Marcy was having a heart attack.

At St. Cloud Hospital, an angiogram revealed that Marcy’s arteries were clear. She was started on blood-thinning therapy and admitted to the Cardiac Care Unit.

The next day, an echocardiogram was done to check the damage the heart attack had caused. This test uncovered a rare, blueberry-sized tumor or myxoma that intermittently blocked the flow of blood from Marcy’s aorta to her left coronary artery. It would require surgery to remove. Although Marcy’s condition stabilized, she had received a medicine for preventing blood clots which put her at risk for bleeding during surgery. The team planned to wait five days for the drugs to wash out of her system and for her body to produce new platelets.

Several days later, Marcy experienced a second heart attack, which prompted Cardiovascular Surgeon John Castro, MD, and team to proceed with open heart surgery immediately.

“Of all the places the myxoma could have grown on her heart, it just happened to be in a bad spot,” Dr. Castro said. “It really was a one-in-two-million chance.”

Marcy spent the next week in the hospital. “Day after day I witnessed remarkable teamwork and professionalism of all the doctors and staff,” she said. “They helped me understand what my options were and explained what they were doing.”

When Marcy was discharged, her heart was working at 20 percent of its capacity due to damage from the heart attacks (normal capacity is about 65 percent). Because of her high risk of heart rhythm problems, she was required to wear a defibrillator to monitor her heart rhythm day and night for the next two months. The vest would “shock” her if she were to develop a life threatening rhythm.

Marcy Schleper of Cold Spring participates in cardiac rehab at CentraCare Marcy participated in physical therapy followed by cardiac rehabilitation helping her to get her strength back. After a follow-up appointment with Cardiologist Jamie Pelzel, MD, in mid-January, Marcy had a defibrillator implanted due to her increased risk of heart failure.“If Marcy develops symptoms of heart failure in the future, we have the resources to help her,” Dr. Pelzel said.

“I am very lucky to live so close to one of the 50 Top Heart Hospitals in the nation with the skill and expertise to handle such a rare condition,” Marcy said.

As Marcy (and the Minnesota weather) continues to improve, she looks forward to long walks, golfing with friends and anything to do with her husband and 9-year-old son, Owen.