Glenda's Story: Stereotaxis Is Life-changing For Active Fashion Model

Many people feel a rapid heartbeat after strenuous activity, such as climbing two flights of stairs. But Glenda Bauer of Mason – whose titles include “grandmother” and “fashion model” – started experiencing a rapid heartbeat almost every evening, for no apparent reason. 

“Feeling my heart racing was unnerving, I admit it,” says Glenda. “I would usually just go to bed, hoping it would be better in the morning, and it almost always was. But I was getting nervous about this. I also was not as energetic, and that was interfering with my life.”

Glenda, originally from Colorado, has always been active, including 37 years with Cincinnati Public Schools as a principal and as a special education supervisor. She also was a dancer, model, and the owner and operator of a model agency and training school in Cincinnati.

Even retired, Glenda is still on the go, including family fun with her husband, sons, and five grandkids, as well as theater, traveling, and shopping. She works as a fashion model, doing what’s known as “freeze modeling” (posing as a mannequin) at a retail store at the Liberty Center in Liberty Township.

Her fatigue and rapid heartbeat concerned Glenda. An episode in 2014 made her seek medical help. When trying to show her visiting aunt around the Cincinnati area – riverboat cruise, museum exhibits, and more – Glenda realized she could not keep up with her 80-year-old aunt.

She had had enough and made a doctor’s appointment.

The diagnosis was clear: Glenda had atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib, the most common type of irregular heart rhythm, or heart arrhythmia.

 

The American Heart Association reports that 2.7 million Americans have AFib. During atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers (atria) of the heart beat fast and irregularly. This can result in the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) beating too fast and the heart not pumping blood as it should.

 

People who suffer from these abnormal heart rhythms are five to seven times more likely to have a stroke or experience more permanent damage to the heart. 

Her diagnosis of AFib had a big impact on Glenda. “My mom had atrial fibrillation and died from a stroke,” she said. A doctor Glenda saw prescribed a blood thinner known to help prevent stroke in people with atrial fibrillation, but her AFib continued. 

A friend recommended that Glenda talk to Mark E. Krebs, MD, a cardiac electrophysiologist with Premier Health. Glenda made an appointment with Dr. Krebs.

Life-Changing Procedure

Dr. Krebs recommended an interventional procedure to treat Glenda’s AFib by ablation – that is, destroying the diseased cardiac tissue that was causing her abnormal heart rhythm and restore her heart to a healthy rhythm. Cardiac ablation may use heat (radiofrequency) or extreme cold (cryoablation) to scar the part of the heart causing the irregular rhythm.

Conventional cardiac ablation involves threading catheters through veins up to the heart using mobile X-rays.

But an advanced technology — Stereotaxis — uses magnetically navigated robotics to more precisely treat the heart. This technology is only available locally at Miami Valley Hospital.

“Stereotaxis (technology) gives extraordinary benefits,” says Dr. Krebs, who completes an average four to five complex ablations each week. “It increases the safety of the procedure, decreases chances of complications, reduces the time of the procedure, enhances the accuracy, and reduces radiation exposure for the patient. With Stereotaxis advancements, physicians can perform the ablation with pinpoint-accuracy within the heart’s intricate wiring.”

Glenda had conducted her own research about ablation before meeting with Dr. Krebs. She appreciated how he explained even more about what it does. “Dr. Krebs was very thorough and such a nice man,” she says. “I felt confident in making the decision to say ‘yes.’”

In March 2015, Glenda had cardiac ablation at Miami Valley Hospital with Dr. Krebs using the Stereotaxis technology.

“In cases like Glenda’s where the AFib comes and goes, success rates for the ablation procedure are as high as 75 to 80 percent,” says Dr. Krebs. “Glenda’s results were 100 percent. The atrial fibrillation was sapping some of her energy, so it was a pleasure to have this wonderful, delightful woman return to her full life.”

“My atrial fibrillation is gone,” Glenda says, breaking into a smile. She had an easy recovery. “Three days after the Stereotaxis procedure my sister and I spent the afternoon shopping in Lebanon,” she reports.

Glenda is thrilled to return to her active life, including swimming three days a week. She’s also very pleased to no longer need the blood thinning medicine.

“The best part of having AFib behind me is not having the worry anymore,” says Glenda. “I am very grateful to Dr. Krebs, and so glad I had the procedure.”

More Advancement

Since Glenda’s ablation in March 2015, Miami Valley Hospital has acquired additional technology for the Stereotaxis system. The Vdrive® upgrade, introduced October 2015, allows physicians to remotely control an ultrasound catheter with improved real-time picture quality of the heart’s anatomy while simultaneously maneuvering another catheter to ablate the diseased cardiac tissue causing the arrhythmia.

“It’s like putting a television camera in the heart,” explains Dr. Krebs. “The new software with robotics allows automated and manual remote movement of the camera to see exactly what we’re doing, especially helpful in very complex procedures.”

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