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Heart Patient Says She No Longer Skips a Beat Thanks to the Cardiac Team at PVHMC

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Heart Patient Says She No Longer Skips a Beat Thanks to the Cardiac Team at PVHMC

Afib Patient Sally Callaway Returns to Her Love of Traveling After Successful Treatment

In 2018, Sally Callaway of Alta Loma suffered a mild stroke. It was then she discovered her incident was a result of atrial fibrillation (AFib), a condition where the human heart's upper chambers beat irregularly and out of sync with the lower heart chambers. When out of sync, like in Sally’s case, the heart doesn’t pump blood quickly enough and the blood can start to coagulate into blood clots that can restrict arteries and cause a loss of the oxygen-rich blood the brain needs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AFib is the most common type of treated heart arrhythmia. It’s estimated to affect more than 12.1 million people by 2030.

Fortunately for this mother of four daughters, two grandsons and two great-great grandsons, the episode was mild, and her condition was able to be treated with medication. However, as time progressed, her medication became less effective in controlling her the symptoms related to her condition. Sally’s daughter, Tammy Freehling, a nurse and the chest-pain coordinator at the Stead Heart & Vascular Center Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center (PVHMC), told her mom about cryogenic ablation.

Cryogenic ablation is a procedure in which portions of the chambers of the heart are frozen to “short circuit” heart tissue that causes irregular heartbeats. The ablation procedure is done with a small incision in the groin where a “freezing wand” is inserted and fed by wire to the inner chambers of the heart. Sally had the procedure performed in April of last year by Dr. Ramanna Merla, PVHMC cardiologist.

“The results were immediate, and I haven’t had an episode since the procedure,” says Sally.

While her symptoms were better managed, Sally returned to PVHMC to have a left atrial appendage closure device implanted in her heart. The minimally invasive procedure, which sealed off the left atrial appendage of her heart, was done to prevent blood from pooling and creating blood clots - ultimately preventing a stroke.

“I’ve taken blood thinners for six months since the procedure,” she says. “I’m now off my medication and only take one baby aspirin a day.”

Sally has always been active and loves to travel. She’s visited all seven continents and plans to see more of the world. She and her husband of 62 years will be going to Southern Asia to visit Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Japan in the next few months.

“Thanks to these heart procedures, the future looks good,” says Sally.

Among all the hospitals in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, the Stead Heart & Vascular Center at PVHMC has set itself apart for providing the most complete line of cardiovascular and stroke services in the region. To learn more about the Stead Heart & Vascular Center, visit: