Who would think that an illness you had in fourth grade could resurface 47 years later? It happened to Paul Hausmann, a 70-year-old resident of Champaigne, Illinois, who had rheumatic fever when he was about 10 years old.
"As a result of the fever, I developed a heart murmur, which never bothered me," says Hausmann. "But at the age of 57, I came down with a blockage and had to have bypass surgery, during which they replaced my aortic valve. Then last February, they picked up that I have A-fib."
A-fib is short for atrial fibrillation, a heart condition that more commonly occurs as people get older. During atrial fibrillation, the heart beats chaotically and irregularly. This leads to poor blood flow to the body and causes heart palpitations, shortness of breath and weakness. The condition also increases a person's risk of developing blood clots that may lead to stroke.
"For the first time in my life, I felt that my energy was drained," says Hausmann. "My doctors put me on an ACE inhibitor so that my heart isn't working so hard to pump. I am also on a diuretic and am at minimal risk for stroke because I am on Coumadin (an anticoagulant) and low-dose aspirin."
Even if you know your doctor is top-notch and doing what is best for you, there is always the nagging thought in the back of one's mind that whispers, "What if? What if my doctor missed something? What if something more could be done? What if there's a better treatment that he or she is not recommending? What if I have a massive heart attack and die - when it could have been prevented?"
Not content to sit and worry, Hausmann decided to get a second opinion from the nation's top-rated heart center - Cleveland Clinic. Rather than traveling from Illinois to Cleveland, he opted to use eCleveland Clinic's MyConsult® Remote Second Medical Opinion, a sophisticated, Web-based extension of Cleveland Clinic's 90-plus-year role as one of America's most respected referral institutions. The secure, online service provides remote second medical opinions from Cleveland Clinic specialists for more than 1,200 life-threatening and life-changing diagnoses.
"It was easy to fill out the forms online and send them in with a keystroke," says Hausmann, who also sent his medical records to the eCleveland Clinic office. "After a short while, the MyConsult report arrived. It was very professional and thorough. I was worried I might antagonize my doctor by seeking a second opinion, but after the Cleveland Clinic report confirmed that he was doing the right thing, he was happy with it."
The MyConsult second opinion gave Hausmann and his wife, Marjorie, who has breast cancer, the confidence to join friends recently on a 10-day trip to Europe. "We went to Munich, Vienna, Budapest and Prague, and I had no problem walking and getting around," Hausmann says. "Apparently, the regimen prescribed by my doctors at home and confirmed by Dr. Jaber at the Cleveland Clinic is working.
"Yes, Marjorie and I have some health issues," he admits. "If you want to sit around and hang your head down and cry - fine. But we don't choose to do that. I am an active person, and now I have to accept a few limitations. I can't run or walk as fast as I used to. But I enjoy golfing, and we sure enjoyed that trip to Europe. The MyConsult second opinion helped me get rid of any concerns and enjoy life to the fullest."