The Challenge: A Debilitating Heart Condition
Annette Amendola is a clinical provider appeal coordinator at UPMC Health Plan.
A patient at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute of since March 2012, Annette has been treated for coronary microvascular dysfunction. It is not fatal, but the condition can be very debilitating since it limits mobility and causes a person to become exhausted very quickly.
Annette is trained as a critical care nurse so she knew her symptoms of pressure in her chest, neck, and jaw, nausea during exercise, and exhaustion from walking were signs of something bigger.
Tragically, many people close to Annette have been affected by heart-related issues:
- Her father had heart disease and died at 48 from a heart attack.
- Her sister had pulmonary hypertension that went undiagnosed for years and she passed away at age 57.
- Her brother experienced a heart attack as well.
Annette also lost a friend that had heart problems but didn’t have treatment to correct them.
The Path to the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Previously, the cardiology department at a community hospital saw Annette for care. She received a heart catheterization and was advised to continue exercising.
The hospital also recommended a personal trainer for strength training.
She wanted to seek a second opinion at UPMC's Heart and Vascular Institute.
“The heart and vascular team's background and experience was reassuring,” said Annette. “Under their care, I felt like I had options.”
Annette's doctors seemed to have an idea of what was wrong right away.
The Solution: The Right Diagnosis and Medicine
Annette's official diagnosis was angina related to Raynaud's disease and connective tissue disease.
Her doctor at the Heart and Vascular Institute treated her to dilate blood vessels to reduce spasms, increasing blood supply to the heart.
After corrective medication, Annette could even begin bike riding again. Her goal to attend her daughter’s wedding came true as well.
Now, Annette’s message to others is to be assertive.
“If your physical complaints aren’t being acknowledged, seek second opinions,” said Annette. “When it comes to your heart, don’t be complacent.”
Annette's treatment and results may not be representative of similar cases.
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