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Janet Mariani’s HCM Story: Life Is Fulfilling Again

Age at Diagnosis: 57
Age Today: 66

My HCM story began seven years before my diagnosis. During that time, my life was sedentary and very frightening. At each annual physical, when I described my symptoms, I was told I had GERD…I had asthma…I was experiencing stress… On and on it went for nearly a decade, until I decided to see a cardiologist on Cape Cod. 

I spent the next year on medication for an unnamed heart problem, but was not feeling better. I often experienced knife-like pain in my chest, extreme fatigue, and shortness of breath. I couldn’t bend over, walk from a parking lot to a store, climb a set of stairs, or walk at an incline. Finally, in 2007, I was diagnosed with HCM, sent to Dr. Martin Maron…and my world began to change for the better. 

I honestly believe if Tufts MC’s HCM Center did not exist, neither would I. Careful evaluation from Dr. Maron determined my HCM was obstructive—severely limiting blood flow from my heart—and largely responsible for my breathing issues, chest pain, etc. That July, at his recommendation, I had a septal myectomy (open heart surgery to reduce heart muscle thickening and eliminate obstructed blood flow) to return my heart pressures to normal and dramatically improve my symptoms. My condition was advanced enough that this procedure was necessary. 

The surgery, performed by Dr. Hassan Rastegar, went smoothly, and after two days in the critical Cardiac Care Unit and another four in the step-down unit, I was discharged. Recovery was easy because I followed my doctors’ instructions. Without a doubt, I am alive today thanks to Dr. Rastegar and Dr. Maron.

A Whole New World
It’s amazing how much life has improved since I found Tufts MC’s HCM Center. Dr. Maron has masterfully regulated my condition, helped me learn my limitations, and given me guidelines for optimum health. In return, the least I can do is continue to maintain good heart health and be an example to others with HCM. I take my daily medications. I am diligent in watching my weight and maintaining a low BMI. I eat properly (lots of protein and veggies; no salt, no junk food) and drink plenty of water. As a result, I am thrilled to be active again. Although I can’t exercise the way I did pre-HCM and I can’t play tennis, my condition is under control and that is priceless. 

Despite living a considerable distance from Tufts MC, visiting Dr. Maron is well-worth the trip. I find it easy, actually—especially now that his expert care has reduced my necessary HCM check-ups. Once a year, I travel to Boston, stay at a nearby hotel, and go to Tufts MC for blood work, an echocardiogram, and appointments with my internist and Dr. Maron. It’s one-stop shopping at a premier care center. I enjoy the professionalism of everyone I encounter there—even the parking attendants are great (they have come to know me over the years). 

Nine years post-diagnosis, I am delighted to say I am a spunky, active 66-year-old, and thanks to Tufts MC’s HCM Center, life is wonderful. Dr. Maron has taught me this is a treatable illness, provided the patient contributes to its successful care. My condition is entirely managed because of his extensive knowledge and experience. His research and dedication to HCM make him eminently qualified to treat patients young and old, and I have the utmost confidence in him and Nurse Practitioner Noreen Dolan. Dr. Maron is a leader in the treatment of HCM. His skill, expertise, and conservative approach assure every patient that—with the right care—a wonderful life awaits.