Tender hearts

This story was originally published in the Winter 2022 edition of Providence Health Matters.


For eight years, Jarrod Daniel, 48, knew he had a congenital heart condition, but he had few symptoms. Then, while on vacation with his family at Bass Lake, in the Sierra National Forest, for the Fourth of July weekend in 2021, he experienced a frightening heart episode that led to life-saving surgeries. “We were sitting outside having breakfast when I really felt my heart racing,” Daniel says. “It lasted for 30 minutes until the paramedics came and gave me an injection that stops and restarts the heart.” He was then taken to a local hospital in Fresno for observation. He was experiencing supraventricular tachyarrhythmia (SVT).

Surgery to treat heart conditions takes place in a supportive environment

After returning home a few days later, he saw Arthur Loussararian, MD, his cardiologist, who has been regularly monitoring Daniel since the 2012 discovery that he was born with a bicuspid aortic valve— one that has only two cusps rather than the usual three, which can impede the heart’s ability to pump. The Bass Lake episode led Dr. Loussararian to conduct a stress echocardiogram, which showed severe narrowing of the aortic valve. That led to a referral to Sevak Darbinian, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon, who replaced Daniel’s aortic valve and ascending aorta (the large blood vessel that distributes blood throughout the body) on September 17.

“Nine days later,” Daniel recalls, “when it looked like I was ready to go home, I had an episode in which different chambers of my heart were beating at different rhythms. Dr. Darbinian decided to keep me an extra day, which is the reason I’m alive and well today.” Dr. Darbinian determined that Daniel needed a pacemaker, which was implanted the following day by Aseem Desai, MD, a Providence Mission cardiologist, and electrophysiologist. “The electrical system of the heart in patients like Daniel often runs differently,” Dr. Darbinian says. “As a result, his electrical signals were getting less frequent, so he needed a pacemaker to regulate the signals.”

Today, Daniel, a technical software salesman, is back to working full-time and has resumed most of his normal activities. “I feel great,” says Daniel, whose hobbies include golf and restoring a 1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer. “My energy level is much better. I’m walking with my wife, Shana, for several miles in the neighborhood without tiredness, I’m walking the dogs three times a day, and we’ve scheduled an upcoming trip to Amsterdam.

I received great care not only from Dr. Darbinian, Dr. Loussararian and Dr. Desai but from everyone at the hospital, including the nurses, who were very attentive to my needs and encouraging.” Dr. Darbinian notes that at Providence Mission Hospital, various forms of minimally invasive surgery are performed. These types of procedures are successful at treating blockages or narrowing of the coronary arteries, various valvular diseases, and aneurysms of the aorta.

Providence Mission is known for caring for the whole family, not just the patient, and that’s why Dr. Darbinian recommended that Daniel have his son, Grayson, 25, and his daughter, Spencer, 23, examined to see if they have their father’s genetic aortic condition. Daniel followed his advice and was grateful to find out that they don’t.


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