As a young, lively working mom of three, Tina Gocke always considered herself a healthy person. Yes, she had occasional migraines and fatigue, but she chalked those symptoms up to a busy life.

Tina’s life changed in September 2017, when she was outside playing with her kids. Suddenly she was unable to hold her water bottle – it dropped from her hand, and she began slurring her speech. Tina was rushed to a nearby hospital where she was diagnosed with a transient ischemic attack (TIA), or a “mini-stroke”, and was then released to return home and “carry on as usual.”

In the days that followed, Tina made an appointment with her doctor, Elana Sheldon, MD, to get a second opinion. After careful review, Dr. Sheldon referred Tina to Azhil Durairaj, MD, medical director of cardiology at Huntington Hospital.

Dr. Durairaj quickly diagnosed the culprit of Tina’s mini-stroke as an atrial septal defect. Tina had a hole in her heart. She was shocked. “Of all the things I ever feared happening to me, this was not one of them. How could it be that my heart had a defect and I never knew it?”

Tina came to Huntington Hospital in November 2017 for a procedure to correct the flaw in the wall between her heart’s atria. “I’m so thankful for the team at Huntington Hospital,” she says. “Dr. Durairaj made sure I was clear on everything, and all of the nurses were fantastic. They make you feel comfortable with what’s happening; they really care.”

With her heart repaired, Tina now considers her experience as a blessing in disguise. Her migraines have eased and she is feeling an amazing difference in her energy and endurance. “I have three small children and a husband. Not only do I need them, but they need me! I look at life and the importance of heart health differently now that Huntington Hospital gave me a second chance.”

Huntington Hospital offers a full spectrum of cardiology and heart health services. There are lots of tests to diagnose heart problems such as an atrial septal defect (a hole in the heart). Find a cardiologist near Pasadena that is affiliated with Huntington Hospital for your cardiac care needs.

If you are grateful for the care you received at our hospital and would like to share your experience, please send us your story.