U of M Program Helping Local Man Live Through Heart Failure

Updated: 03/21/2014 5:16 PM
Created: 03/21/2014 2:33 PM
By: Todd Wilson

In November 2012 Saliin had what he thought was the flu. Into February 2013 things got so bad he  decided to see a doctor. Dr. Dan Garry gave 47-year old Alan Saliin, of Forest Lake, a once over.

Testing showed his heart was beating at 1/5 of normal heart function. Saliin is lucky to be alive after experiencing heart failure.

"There's so many reasons why I shouldn't be sitting here today," he said. "The damage to my heart was so extensive and they immediately thought that my only option was to get a transplant."

Saliin soon developed a blood clot. He then had a stroke, which created trying times for a man with a wife and 3 and 5 year old daughters at home.

"My wife is very strong. My kids-they're three and five-but they understood what I was going through," Saliin said.

According to the CDC, about 5.1 million people in the United States have heart failure. About half of people who develop heart failure die within 5 years of diagnosis. Dr. Garry says, risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes to being obese.

"Diagnoses of heart failure and treatment are absolutely essential," he said.

Eventually Saliin signed up for the Advanced Heart Failure Program at the U of M. They changed his diet and put him through heart rehab. It gets his heart running better, gets him off the transplant list and back to his normal life.

He'll have heart failure the rest of his life, that doesn't go away. So he has a defibrillator that will shock his heart back to life if it decides to quit again. Right now, things are good for Saliin.

"I'm living a pretty normal life. I'm back to work and doing what I can." 

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