A pacemaker takes Shelley back to her active and happy lifestyle.

The heart of the matter

Shelley Murphy lived in Florida for many years and enjoyed the active lifestyle the warm climate made possible. She was an avid soccer and racquetball player and enjoyed other aerobic activities. All totaled, she was doing 30 to 45 minutes of cardio daily. Despite this active lifestyle, she started experiencing periodic shortness of breath and chest pain. She also gained weight and couldn’t pinpoint the cause.

She soon found herself caught in a downward spiral. As her shortness of breath and chest pain worsened, her activity waned and her weight increased. The more weight she gained, the less confident she felt about participating in sports.

In 2003 Shelley moved to Virginia. Within a year, her shortness of breath and chest pains had worsened to the point that she had trouble walking across a hallway.

"It was incredibly frustrating. Not only had my condition taken away my physical activities, it had begun to get in the way of my career," shared Shelley. Adding to her stress was the responsibility of caring for her 78-year-old mother. 

Getting back to normal 

Shelley turned to her primary care physician and was referred to Dr. William Freedman, a cardiologist at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital. Dr. Freedman found blockages in her arteries and extensive angina. Shelley was surprised. The diagnosis caused her to look into her family history, where she discovered that a parent and grandparent had also suffered from heart-related illnesses.

Dr. Freedman started Shelley on External Counter Pulsation (ECP) treatment. After only a few weeks of ECP Shelley felt markedly better.

"It was the first relief I had felt in years, and the relief was immediate. I could finally walk again without shortness of breath or pain," she said.

After completing her ECP treatment, Shelley was on the road to recovery, but Freedman was convinced that they could do more. He referred Shelley to Dr. Chris Friend, a cardiologist who specializes in device implantation. In February 2006, Dr. Friend implanted a pacemaker to ensure Shelley's heart maintained a productive rhythm.

With her successful ECP treatment and her new pacemaker, Shelley is feeling great. Finally able to turn her attention back to the things that make her the happiest, she once again is active in an array of community initiatives including politics and volunteering.


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