Patient Testimonial - Dirk Lammert

Hunting For His Rhythm

Dirk Lammert just wanted someone to give him some answers. He first noticed something wasn’t right in 2000, when his heart felt as though it was beating out of rhythm. For the next 10 years, he saw several different doctors, none of whom could tell him what he had.

Frustrated by the lack of diagnosis, Lammert just tried to live his life, but that proved to be difficult. The irregular beating of his heart progressively got worse, and it was starting to affect him physically. “I would get tired going up the stairs and at work, and eventually I would feel tired just by standing up,” said the now-55-year-old Rhinelander resident. “I helped my buddy drag a deer out of the woods one time, and my heart was beating so fast I thought I was going to die.”

It wasn’t until 2010 that Lammert knew he had to see another doctor and get his heart checked out. The moment of truth occurred when Lammert was by his wife’s side after she had a mountain bike accident. As he watched the ambulance crew care for his wife, Lammert’s heart felt like it was going to beat out of his chest.

Finally An Answer

Lammert made an appointment to be seen at Aspirus Cardiovascular Associates in Rhinelander, where his dad had received care previously. At his appointment, he received a heart monitor to wear at home to record his heart activity. “After my results came back, they called me back and said ‘You have to come in right away,’” Lammert said. “They told me they found something, and I remember being elated because there was finally a reason for what I was experiencing.

Lammert had atrial fibrillation (a-fib), a common heart condition where a faulty electrical impulse causes the heart to beat irregularly and greatly increases a person’s risk for stroke. Doctors tried different medications to regulate Lammert’s heartbeat, but the medicine did not put his heart in regular rhythm. Lammert also underwent a couple cardioversions, a treatment that uses electricity to shock the heart back into rhythm. The first cardioversion worked for about a day before Lammert’s heart fell back out of rhythm, and a later attempt didn’t work at all. At this point, his heart was nearly always out of rhythm. Something else needed to be done.

Relief at last!

Following the final failed cardioversion, Lammert underwent a series of tests to map out his veins and detect the faulty electrical sites in his heart. In late December 2011, he underwent a cryoablation, which at the time was a new procedure. During cryoablation, doctors insert a catheter in the groin and guide a balloon to the heart. Once in place, the balloon is inflated and cooled to freeze the heart tissue that causes the irregular heartbeat.

“I was in the hospital for a couple days and back to work the following week,” Lammert said. “My heart hasn’t gone out of rhythm since the procedure, and it’s like I have a new lease on life.” Within three months of the cryoablation, Lammert was off the various medications he had been taking for years. Now he bikes hundreds of miles in the summer and is able to enjoy bow hunting again. “For the first couple months I would periodically check my pulse out of habit to make sure I was OK, but after that I began to live again,” he said. “Now I don’t have to have my heart concern me all the time.”