Heart procedure gives Round Lake woman relief after years of blood thinners

Sharon Chrobak, 80 of Round Lake, describes herself as a bleeder. Like many people, she was put on blood thinners after she had a stent in her heart, but because of her medication, bloody noses became a frequent occurrence. And these weren't ordinary bloody noses - once they started, they were difficult to stop.

In 2019, one of her bloody noses lasted for over five hours, landing her in the hospital and eventually requiring cauterization.

When Chrobak returned home, she got something to eat, went to the bathroom and suddenly felt like she was going to pass out. She fell, broke her ankle and decided to go off of her blood thinners.

But in 2022, she was prescribed blood thinners again after winding up with atrial fibrillation (A-fib).

As time went on, she noticed she was losing blood and her hemoglobin levels dropped well below a normal range, landing her in the intensive care unit this past July. After she recovered, her doctor offered her an alternative to her medication: a left atrial appendage occlusion (LAAO) procedure.

On Oct. 16, Chrobak was the 400th person to receive the LAAO procedure at Advocate Condell Medical Center under the care of Dr. Mouyyad Rahaby, Dr. Eric Kessler and Dr. Mehran Jabbarzadeh.

"I was excited when I was approved for the procedure because I was excited to get off the blood thinners," Chrobak says. "They help me, but they make me bleed."

She hopes sharing her story will help other people learn about the options available to them. "I'm 80 years old and if it helps me, it'll help other people too," she says.

She will have another checkup in six weeks and if everything goes well, she'll only need to take a baby aspirin going forward.

"This procedure definitely saves lives," says Dr. Rahaby, a cardiac electrophysiologist who has been performing the procedure since 2015.

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