Living Well: Signs of a Weak Heart

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - To look at Matthew Aldridge today, it's hard to tell his heart was actually failing a year ago.

Doctors say noticing the signs saved his life.

"They thought it was bronchitis and then possibly pneumonia. And then it got to where I couldn't breathe and climbing flights of stairs was difficult," says Matthew Aldridge, Heart Patient.

Doctors at Baptist Health did an ultrasound and found that Matthew had an enlarged heart. He was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy.

"His heart is larger than it should be and not squeezing well. A normal heart squeezes at 60 percent, and he was at the time squeezing at 10 percent," explains Dr. Alex Orsini, Baptist Health Cardiologist.

Since then, Dr. Orsini put Matthew on medication and implanted a defibrillator to help improve his heart.

"If Matthew would've stayed at home, he wouldn't have lived a week. I'm not sure he would've lived three days," adds Dr. Orsini.

That's why the warning signs are crucial. For Matthew, he felt sick, weak, and found it hard to breathe.

Dr. Orsini says don't ignore it.

"No matter how young and healthy you are, sometimes bad things happen to people who've done nothing to deserve it," Dr. Orsini continues.

A weak heart is something Matthew says he never saw coming. He hopes others learn from this, as it is uncommon to see heart failure in young patients.

"I guess it was tough to process because you don't really think of somebody that young having something like that," says Aldridge. "You know it's been a year, and so it's like well if I can make it a year, then I can make it more."

During Heart Health Month in February, doctors recommend that you check your family history and get regular screenings on blood pressure and cholesterol.

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