Teen Athlete Sidelined By Mysterious Chest, Abdominal Pain
Diagnosis Of Rare Heart Defect Leads To Difficult Surgical Decision
Last Updated: 898 days ago
Chest and abdominal pain forced a high school athlete to quit her sport while her family searched for the source of the pain for a year and a half.Doctors finally traced the pain to her heart, which led to a difficult decision about surgery.At The Children's Hospital, 17-year-old Andrea Hoffman does an exercise test to see if she can resume her active lifestyle. In October, she underwent heart surgery to correct a life-threatening condition which caused pain when exercising."I felt light-headed, dizzy, and I felt some chest pain," Hoffman said. "It felt kind of like someone was sitting on my chest, but it also radiated to like my stomach."For 18 months, the cause of the pain remained a mystery to doctors."They sent us to a gastrologist, they sent us to a pulmonary specialist. I think she had about 22 tests," said Kevin Hoffman, Andrea's father.Eventually she was referred to the pediatric cardiology unit at The Children's Hospital where doctors determined Hoffman had a rare heart defect, an anomalous right coronary artery. In other words, her right coronary artery was attached to her heart in the wrong place."It could not fill normally, so therefore, the heart muscle was not getting enough blood flow," said Dr. Karrie Villavicencio, a pediatric cardiologist.However, that diagnosis brought with it mixed feelings for Hoffman and her family."It was exciting they found something, but it was shocking what they found," Andrea Hoffman said. "I wouldn't have thought it would have been with my heart."Only 0.2 percent of the population has an anomalous coronary artery which can lead to sudden cardiac death. Hoffman elected to have heart surgery with no guarantee it would even cure her symptoms. She even asked her surgeon, Dr. Jim Jaggers, to videotape the procedure since she's interested in going to medical school.Today, with her exercise tests completed, doctors told Hoffman she could return to the soccer team for her senior year. This was news Hoffman was excited to hear."I don't want to be restricted for the rest of my life," Hoffman said. "I'd rather have a chance to get better and do what I love to do."Hoffman also expressed gratitude to her doctors, family and friends who helped her through this nearly two-year ordeal. She is also excited that she can begin pursuing another goal: running a marathon.