How Brent Landrum Got His Heart Back in the Game

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When a coach’s heart threatened to take him out of the game, we made him a returning champion.

A football and baseball coach at The John Cooper School in The Woodlands, Brent Landrum knew something was wrong when he started waking up in the middle of the night unable to breathe in April of 2008. He was only 41 years old.

Brent thought he was experiencing sleep apnea, and doctors agreed that it was likely not something urgent. After returning from a championship game in Ft. Worth, Brent went to see Dr. Vincent Aquino, a Cardiologist at St. Luke’s Health–The Woodlands Hospital. With an astounding resting heart rate of 165 bpm, Brent was admitted to the hospital, but he had an allergic reaction to the medicine he was given to slow it down. His heart rate plummeted to below 30 bpm and he was shocked back to a normal rhythm.

Once stable, a full cardiovascular exam found that he had no cholesterol issues or blockages, but he did have an irregular heartbeat, or atrial fibrillation. Dr. Aquino diagnosed Brent with rapid response congestive heart failure. While most people’s hearts operate at 50-60% efficiency, Brent’s was operating at just 14%. 

Brent underwent an ablation procedure, which involves inserting a catheter on each side of the groin into the femoral arteries, in May of 2008 at St. Luke’s Health–Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, One catheter holds a camera while the other ablates, or solders, the irregular cardiac impulses and closes them off. The fairly new technique—only seven years old at the time—worked well. His heart’s efficiency rate went from 14% to 42% within a couple of months. But his left atrium was still not operating correctly, shaking instead of pumping. So in late 2009, after doctors noticed an abnormal sinus rhythm, he underwent another ablation procedure.  

Since then, Brent’s heart has strengthened to 62% efficiency, which is above normal He is only on two heart medications, has changed his diet and stopped drinking, and exercises regularly.

It was never found what caused Brent’s heart issue, although his mother does experience atrial fibrillation. Whatever the case, he knows that had he not gotten the responsive, knowledgeable and compassionate care he did from the cardiovascular team at The Woodlands Hospital, he likely would not have seen his 42nd birthday. 

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