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Beacon doctor ensures heart patient doesn’t “miss a beat” returning to active lifestyle

John Gish remembers going to the hospital after feeling a tightness in his chest while mowing the lawn. After a successful quadruple heart bypass in 2020, John entered physical therapy to help his heart recover. It was during therapy that he learned he had another heart problem.

He had atrial fibrillation, or AFib, which is the most common type of treated heart arrhythmia that causes an irregular, and usually rapid, heart rhythm. This abnormal heart rhythm can lead to blood clots forming in the heart, which raises the risk of having a stroke.

Some people might be frightened to learn about another heart problem on the heels of recovering from major heart surgery. Not John.

“I don’t worry about stuff like that,” he said. “I find out what it is and what’s needed to correct it.”

One way to treat AFib is with cardioversion therapy, in which electrical shocks are used to jolt the heart back into a regular rhythm. Unfortunately, this procedure didn’t work for John.

Dr. Adil Wani, Beacon Medical Group Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists Riverpointe

He consulted with interventional cardiologist Dr. Adil Wani at Beacon Medical Group Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists Riverpointe, who recommended the Watchman procedure.

The Watchman is a device that’s guided to the heart through a narrow tube inserted into the patient’s upper leg. The device expands to about the size of a quarter and works by closing off part of the heart where blood clots tend to form.

An advantage of Watchman is that it reduces stroke risk without the need for blood thinners.

“Blood thinners, although the most widely accepted treatment option for stroke reduction in atrial fibrillation, are a double-edged sword,” Dr. Wani said. “Now, we have the minimally invasive Watchman option; we take care of the blood pooling and no longer have to worry about bleeding from blood thinners.”

Dr. Wani performed John’s procedure last year at Elkhart General Hospital. “I like Dr. Wani because he’ll come and tell you, ‘Boom, here’s what it is. Here’s what we‘re going to do, here’s what to expect.’ I like that,” John said.

The Watchman was implanted in the morning, and John was out of the hospital that afternoon.

“Just like Mr. Gish, most patients go home the same day after this procedure,” Dr. Wani said.

John was under virtually no restrictions after the procedure – good news for this active retiree and his wife of 45 years. “It went very well. I have a lot of confidence in Dr. Wani,” John said.

“We don’t like sitting in the house. We like to move,” he continued. “I walk my golden retriever quite a bit. We’re active with our family. We like to walk the beach at St. Joseph. It’s a beautiful little city.”

John has since come through his follow-up check with flying colors. Looking back, he’s grateful to the entire care team, including both Dr. Wani and the nurses on the cardiac recovery unit.

“They took very, very good care of me,” he said. “They were very knowledgeable and very professional. I was extremely pleased with the whole experience.”

Our Beacon care team

Whether you are looking to understand your health risks, are living with an ongoing heart or blood vessel problem or have experienced a life-changing emergency, your Beacon care team is here to help – with the information, resources and care you need. Learn more about our care team and the services we provide: