Ralph Wise never knew he had a heart issue. It wasn't until he came down with the flu while living in Ohio that his primary care physician suggested checking his heart.
"Both of my parents died from heart disease," Wise says. "So my doctor was watchful."
As it turned out, Wise's test results revealed atrial fibrillation – a heart rhythm disorder that occurs when electrical impulses in the heart are irregular. The condition, often referred to as AFib, is the most common type of abnormal heart rhythm. Although AFib can be symptomless, as in Wise's case, it can also cause heart palpitations, chest pain and fainting. Untreated atrial fibrillation can lead to advanced heart failure and stroke.
Wise was prescribed medication to control his condition, but it came with severe side effects and required constant blood tests. When he moved to Kansas City from Ohio, Wise had a chance encounter on a plane with a pediatric oncologist who gave him valuable advice.
"She told me I needed to have a cardiovascular procedure because the medication I was prescribed was crazy," says Wise.