World-class care for matters of the heart

February 8, 2018

As a young, lively working mom of three, Tina Gocke always considered herself a healthy person. Yes, she had occasional migraines and fatigue, but she chalked those symptoms up to a busy life.

Tina’s life changed in September 2017, when she was outside playing with her kids. Suddenly she was unable to hold her water bottle – it dropped from her hand, and she began slurring her speech. Tina was rushed to a nearby hospital where she was diagnosed with a transient ischemic attack (TIA), or a “mini-stroke”, and was then released to return home and “carry on as usual.”

In the days that followed, Tina made an appointment with her doctor, Elana Sheldon, MD, to get a second opinion. After careful review, Dr. Sheldon referred Tina to Azhil Durairaj, MD, medical director of cardiology at Huntington Hospital.

Dr. Durairaj quickly diagnosed the culprit of Tina’s mini-stroke as an atrial septal defect. Tina had a hole in her heart. She was shocked. “Of all the things I ever feared happening to me, this was not one of them. How could it be that my heart had a defect and I never knew it?”

Tina came to Huntington Hospital in November 2017 for a procedure to correct the flaw in the wall between her heart’s atria. “I’m so thankful for the team at Huntington Hospital,” she says. “Dr. Durairaj made sure I was clear on everything, and all of the nurses were fantastic. They make you feel comfortable with what’s happening; they really care.”

With her heart repaired, Tina now considers her experience as a blessing in disguise. Her migraines have eased and she is feeling an amazing difference in her energy and endurance. “I have three small children and a husband. Not only do I need them, but they need me! I look at life and the importance of heart health differently now that Huntington Hospital gave me a second chance.”

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