Annette Powell had always been an athlete. She was a collegiate basketball player with no prior health concerns. So in 2007, at age 43, this Ocala high school dean was concerned when she experienced an attack of shortness of breath, dizziness and heart palpitations that stopped her in her tracks. She had experienced similar symptoms over the last year, but never bad enough that she worried. This time was different, she had to sit down on the floor when walking down the hallway with a coworker — this is what she refers to as her “crash.”
The Ocala native was sent to her local hospital where she was fitted with a LifeVest after a concerning heart scan. A LifeVest is a defibrillator worn by patients at risk of sudden cardiac death. Her doctors couldn’t figure out what the issue was. This is when she was referred to cardiologists at UF Health.
“UF Health gave me confidence,” Powell said.
While sitting in the UF Health offices of William Miles, MD, Powell was casually talking to her mom when her heart monitor alerted them of distress. She began to suffer from cardiac arrest. Immediately, she was admitted to UF Health and began undergoing tests. Powell was placed under the care of Chief of Cardiology Juan Aranda, MD, whom Powell says she completely trusts.
Powell received an implantable defibrillator and pacemaker. This was just the first step. Her doctors at UF Health still wanted to know what was causing her heart problems. After being monitored and tested, doctors had their answer — heart failure with cardiac sarcoidosis, a rare disease in which clusters of white blood cells, called granulomas, form in the tissue of the heart.
Dr. Aranda eased this patient’s concerns by always asking her to focus on how she felt as this would be the biggest indicator of successful treatment.
Powell was placed on medication to treat her condition in addition to the defibrillator and pacemaker. Thanks to UF Health, she did not need a heart transplant or any additional interventions. In 13 years since her “crash,” her condition has not worsened.
“UF Health keeps me healthy and stable,” Powell said. “UF Health just got it right with me. They’re responsible for me being alive today. I am thankful that UF Health is a part of God’s Master Plan for my life.”
At the time of her heart scare, Powell’s daughter was only 4 years old. After receiving high-quality care, Powell was able to watch her daughter graduate high school and work more than 33 years in the education system.