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Heart Rhythm clinic offers local, coordinated heart care

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It was over 30 years ago when Clarence Salow, 84, experienced his first major health scare – a heart attack not only nearly took his life, but affected him for years to come.

 

After a successful bypass surgery in 1980, the Earlville resident and Korean War veteran went back to work and continued everyday life as a husband and father; that is until February of 2015.

Three decades later, Salow experienced yet another heart attack, this time requiring him to undergo an atherectomy procedure with UnityPoint Clinic® Cardiologist Tauseef Khan, MD, at Finley Hospital.
This minimally invasive procedure – the first of its kind performed in Dubuque – removed plaque and
calcium from Salow’s artery, prior to a successful coronary stent placement.

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The lifesaving care Salow received didn’t stop there. After a pacemaker and defibrillator implantation this past spring, Salow woke up one morning  with a familiar chest pain.

“I had an aching in my chest,” he explained, “and then I felt my defibrillator give me four shocks.” These shocks halted yet another heart attack for the retired John  Deere employee. After undergoing an additional procedure and stent placement this past fall, Salow was then referred by Dr. Khan to Mohit Chawla, MD, an electrophysiologist at the new UnityPoint Clinic arrhythmia clinic in Dubuque.

Electrophysiologists, or specialists that study and treat heart rhythms and arrhythmias, assist patients who experience both life threatening and non-life threatening rhythm issues. 

“We’re rhythm doctors; electricians for the heart,” said Dr. Chawla. “We often implement and tailor devices that help patients who have abnormal rhythm processes, as well as protect those who are prone to cardiac arrests.”

Finley’s new heart rhythm and device clinic, which opened in early November, benefits patients like Salow, who no longer need to travel outside of the Dubuque area to receive comprehensive and local heart care. Salow, who used to travel over 70 miles to receive care for his defibrillator and pacemaker devices, saw firsthand the collaboration and coordinated care among Finley’s heart care providers. Both Drs. Khan and Chawla work together to determine which patients will benefit from the heart rhythm services. 

“A majority of the patients I’m seeing have been referred to me by Dr. Khan, who recognizes the potential for the specialized heart care we offer from an electrophysiology standpoint,” said Dr. Chawla. 

“Clarence is a perfect example of someone who had high potential of benefiting from our services. He has a complex cardiac history with a defibrillator that recently saved his life. He’s the perfect patient for us to fine-tune his device and tailor his therapy, and he can stay in Dubuque for his care.”

That’s just what Salow plans to do, who recently celebrated his 32nd wedding anniversary with his wife, Phyllis. “I feel great. If it weren’t for this defibrillator,” he said, patting his chest, “I wouldn’t be here. Both doctors are great.”

Finley’s new heart rhythm clinic is one example of how UnityPoint Health collaborates to provide patients and their families with specialized,  coordinated care, close to home.