Rare condition can put deadly strain on heart

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – For several years, Natacha Rose, a young mother of three, thought her racing heart beat was just a sign of stress.

“When I went for checkups they would say ‘Oh you have a fast heart rate, are you nervous? Just relax, it’s just a check-up.’ I heard that constantly every time I went to my appointments,” Rose said.

Then she started having ongoing chest pains for several months.

Blood tests showed evidence of a heart attack caused by a blocked artery.

Twice she underwent surgery to open the blockage with stents, but the vessels kept closing, which lead to a massive heart attack.

That’s when Cleveland Clinic Weston cardiologist Dr. David Wolinsky dug deeper and discovered she had a condition called a Thyroid Storm.

“Thyroid Storm means somebody has what’s called hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid, but in the setting of Thyroid Storm it’s really a dramatic increase in thyroid activity,” Wolinsky said.

While hospitalized for the heart attack, Rose was immediately put on medications to slow down her thyroid.

“As we started to cool off the thyroid her metabolic parameters started to get better. Her blood pressure improved we were able to wean off all the support and she continued to do well and we know the vessels, the last time we looked at them, weren’t closed,” Wolinsky said.

Rose said the Experience was a wakeup call.

Along with taking daily medications, she’s altered her diet and become more active.

“I’m just happy to be here. I’m very, very grateful to still be around and still see my husband and my kids because that could have been it, that really could have been it,” Rose said.

The mortality rate for people with untreated thyroid storm is estimated to be 75 percent.

The most effective way to prevent the onset of a thyroid storm is to have your thyroid levels checked during an annual physical.

About the Authors:

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.