Kaitlin Woosley has seen hundreds of patients emerge from Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab — the cath lab, as it’s commonly known. Working as a certified nursing assistant in the Progressive Care Unit, the cath lab’s patients are regularly transferred to her area of the hospital to recover after a procedure.
“Most of the patients have had a stent put in due to a heart attack or something along those lines,” said Woosley, age 23. “They are usually a lot older than I am, so it never crossed my mind that I could end up as a patient there.”
But that’s where Woosley found herself after an unexpected heart problem began plaguing her in February of 2014. It started with what she believed was a common cold.
“I’d feel healthy for a week or so and then be sick again,” recalled Woosley. “At one point the doctor asked me if I’d ever been diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat.
I’d never had any health issues — or anything with my heart — so at first we believed the irregularity may have been a temporary issue caused by the Mucinex I was taking. But the problem didn’t go away.”
Woosley underwent a number of tests to determine her condition. She was suffering from frequent premature contractions, which are abnormal heartbeats that begin in one of the heart’s pumping chambers (ventricles). While common, Woosley was profoundly affected by the condition. She became easily exhausted and had trouble completing her shifts at work. She tried a medication to suppress the premature contractions, but it only made her feel worse.
Then Woosley was referred to Jeff Hsing, MD, a cardiologist with the Heart Rhythm Center at Samaritan Heart & Vascular Institute. Dr. Hsing specializes in electrophysiology, an area of medicine focusing on abnormalities in the electrical impulses of the heart. He performs radiofrequency ablations in the cath lab and knew Woosley was an excellent candidate.
“Kaitlin had a condition that is easily treated with ablation,” said Hsing. “During the minimally invasive procedure, we use radiofrequency energy to destroy the tissue in the heart that’s causing the arrhythmia. Young people like Kaitlin often have a hard time tolerating medications for this condition and it’s not ideal to be on a life-long medication. Ablation is a safe and effective option.”
Last June, Woosley had an ablation procedure in the cath lab. While she recalls being very nervous, she was surrounded by a huge support team of co-workers and family.
“The cath lab team was amazing,” said Woosley. “Right away, Dr. Hsing told me it was a success.”
Today, Woosley says she feels better than ever. Back to her full strength, she trained for and completed her first 10K race and is training for a half-marathon.
“I feel great and I have a different outlook than I used to — I don’t take being healthy for granted,” she said. “I think I can better connect with many of my patients now, too, and that’s a pretty cool result.”
Learn more at samhealth.org/Heart.