Racing to Heart Health

Paddling to victory

Athlete Mary Rose competes in outrigger paddling, skis, kayaks and even scales the peaks of ice-covered canyons. Her heart has always been the means to achieving her active lifestyle. She never gave it more than a passing thought.

Until 2009, when three separate episodes of heart palpitations sent Rose to her Scripps health care team.

Diagnosed with ventricular tachycardia, an abnormal heart rhythm that can cause cardiac arrest, Rose is thankful that she had access to an integrated team of doctors and advanced arrhythmia care at Scripps. The largest provider of electrophysiology services in San Diego County, Scripps provides world-class arrhythmia diagnosis and state-of-the-art treatment.

Back to the beat

Cardiac rhythm specialist Douglas Gibson, MD, performed catheter ablation—a leading-edge, minimally invasive electrophysiology procedure in which the abnormal cells causing Rose’s irregular heart rhythm were destroyed (ablated). Ablation allowed Rose to resume her active lifestyle without an implantable defibrillator or pacemaker.

“I was shaken by the diagnosis,” says Rose. “I wasn’t prepared for the shock of a serious condition that might require a pacemaker and cause me to give up any strenuous activity.”

Mary’s procedure was finished in a few hours. Dr Gibson and his team utilized state-of-the-art, three-dimensional heart mapping technology, sophisticated catheter ablation equipment and innovative imaging modalities to eradicate the abnormal heart muscle that caused Rose’s arrhythmia. Her post-operative course was uncomplicated, and she was discharged after an overnight stay at Scripps Green Hospital.

“This is truly a team endeavor, and we have one of the best teams to be found,” says Dr Gibson.

One month after her ablation, Rose was back to paddling on her own—from sprint racing to long-distance racing. In 2011, Rose and her team paddled to first place in the Queen Lili’uoklani 18-mile race in Hawaii. In fall 2011, the San Diego Hanohano Outrigger Club awarded Rose a trophy as their most inspirational member.

Investing in heart health

Scripps is committed to keeping Rose healthy. Integrative cardiologist Christopher Suhar, MD, at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, made the original diagnosis that led to proper therapy for Rose and followed her progress during her hospital stay.

Dr. Suhar encourages Rose’s involvement in sports and fitness—including her morning yoga class before work at the Birch Aquarium— and also taught her how to eat right. In addition, Rose takes vitamin supplements and medication to lower her cholesterol.