During Shirley Branyon’s recent six-month checkup at Wake
Forest Baptist Health – Davie Medical Center, Dr. Patrick Whalen calmly asked her
about her minor heart palpitations.
“Are there any particular patterns to what you’re feeling?” “Do
they occur when you’re under stress or exertion?” “How long do they last, three
to five seconds?”
Her answers, combined with a printout of readings from her
pacemaker, confirmed for Whalen that Branyon is doing fine after nearly eight
years on a pacemaker. The device controls her atrial fibrillation, or AFib, which
is an irregular, fast heartbeat. Branyon also has occasional premature
ventricular contractions (PVCs), which are extra, abnormal heartbeats.
Branyon, 61, of Advance, said her heart conditions have not
resulted in any lifestyle changes other than her cutting down on caffeine. She said
she immediately recognizes when she is having an episode of AFib or a PVC.
“It feels like a butterfly in there fluttering,” she said.
Branyon said she was grateful for another good checkup with
Whalen and the cardiology team at Davie Medical Center.
“There is no comparison with the care at other places,” she
said. “Here, it’s easy to see your doctors, and they spend time with you.”
Heart services have grown quickly at Davie Medical Center
since 2014, the first full year it was open. There were 933 cardiology visits
in 2014 compared to more than 2,500 in 2016. That’s an increase of 271 percent.
Visits are on pace to grow another 20 percent in 2017.
Whalen, director of cardiac electrophysiology for Wake
Forest Baptist Medical Center, sees
patients at Davie Medical Center for diagnostic and continuing care. Whalen
and other specialists treat patients at Davie Medical Center with services
including echocardiograms, electrocardiograms (EKGs) and general heart health.
Having these heart services in an easily accessible location
pleases patients, Whalen said.
In addition to performing examinations and making sure
pacemakers and other devices are working properly, Whalen befriends them
throughout their visit.
“I spend my time sitting down with them, hearing about
what’s going on with their grandkids, what trip they’re planning.” he said.
“It’s the best of both worlds.”