Eighty-year-old Jim doesn’t like to waste time. Fortunately for Jim, neither does his Tryon Medical Partners care team. In April 2020, when he noticed swelling in his ankles and shortness of breath on his daily walk, he contacted his Tryon Medical Partners care team and got an immediate response.
“I left a message at 4:30 in the afternoon, and two minutes later, Sherry called me and said, ‘Can you please be here at 8 a.m.?,’” says Jim, referring to Dr. Ryan Shelton’s nurse. “I know Sherry is on top of it, and everything there runs like clockwork.”
A quick examination by Dr. Shelton confirmed that Jim had new onset congestive heart failure, and they needed to figure out why.
“Congestive heart failure is a strongly worded medical diagnosis that means the pump function of the heart is starting to weaken,” says Dr. Shelton.
In Jim’s case, fluid was backing up into his legs, ankles and feet, causing swelling (edema). Congestive heart failure can also cause fluid to accumulate in the lungs (pulmonary edema), which can lead to shortness of breath. Dr. Shelton referred Jim to Tryon Medical cardiologist, Dr. David Framm, who works in the same building.
“Thirty minutes after talking to Dr. Shelton, I was talking to Dr. Framm, who then ordered an immediate echocardiogram and later said my heart condition was actually caused by a virus,” says Jim.
Viral cardiomyopathy is a rare heart disease caused by a routine cold virus or other infection, rather than genetic predisposition or unhealthy lifestyle. While there is no way to treat the virus itself, viral cardiomyopathy is treated with prescription drugs that reduce fluid buildup and restore the heart’s pumping ability. According to Harvard Health Publishing, 40% to 50% of people with new-onset viral cardiomyopathy will recover their earlier level of heart function.
While Jim is still in treatment for this condition, his recovery is going very well. He has managed to regain some of his heart’s left ventricular function. He says it’s thanks to some research and having a doctor who listens. Jim also has type 2 diabetes and inquired with Dr. Shelton about a change in his diabetes medication regimen that might also improve heart failure.
“Good doctors love it when you go with a list of questions and things to talk about,” Jim adds.
Thanks to a long career in sales and marketing, Jim understands business and management. He feels that Tryon Medical can do what is best for patients because they are an independent practice. He also feels that Dr. Shelton, Sherry and their entire team really care about him. And even though it might take a few extra minutes at his office visit, Jim is always willing to give Dr. Shelton some marketing advice.