My Story- by Marion Martell

At the time of my incident, I was 58 years old. Professional women, in good physical health, exercised regularly, ate well, not overweight, not on any medication, and never sick. It was May 2008, when I noticed that I experienced shortness of breath climbing hills at our golf course.

On Friday May 23rd, 2008 I was teaching a Communication Course at our local college. I had just started to deliver the afternoon component of the course when I did not feel well, short of breath, dizzy. I sat down- the next thing I knew someone was asking me about my heart rate. It was a paramedic. My normal heart rate was usually in the 50’s and my normal Blood Pressure is below 100. This time my heart was 43, (I was never that low). I was hooked up to a heart monitor. The Paramedic told me I was in Second degree Heart Block. Wow! I had already gone from First degree to second degree Heart Block. I knew I was in trouble. Things got worse…

I went from Second Degree Heart Block into Complete Heart Block. I was taken to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute where I stayed from May 23- May 29th. At first I was stabilized with a temporary Pacemaker and then I had surgery to have a permanent Pacemaker inserted to regulate my heart rate. With Heart Block there is a problem with the electrical conduction of the heart. Initially, I had one lead inserted, but it proved insufficient as I was still experiencing symptoms, shortness of breath, dizziness. In January 2009, I had a second lead inserted. This time I improved greatly, I was symptom free, back to feeling the way I did before my incident.

I had further studies done to determine the cause of my complete Heart Block. The Doctors were puzzled why I passed out and why I would require a pacemaker. I had genetic studies done at the Heart Institute. The outcome of the studies determined my heart block was idiopathic (no known cause).

Today I am 62 years old, life for me goes on as if nothing happened, and I remain as active as ever. I continue to work out on a very regular basis, golf, bike, walk, cross country ski.

Life is good, thanks to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

-Marion Martell

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