Heart Month 2018: Sharon Leissner


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Sometimes you just need to listen to – and follow – your heart. In today’s “28 Days, 28 Hearts” story, that’s exactly what Sharon Leissner did after a family member died from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). When she noticed similar symptoms in both herself and her son, Jake, Sharon immediately made appointments to get their hearts checked out. They both were diagnosed with heart murmurs but were assured they didn’t have HCM. Unconvinced, Sharon and Jake went on to see multiple doctors, none of whom were able to identify the cause of their symptoms. Persistent in her suspicion that they might in fact have HCM, Sharon contacted Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association and was referred to a doctor who specialized in the condition. His diagnosis: Sharon was right; both she and her son had HCM. Both received intravenous implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), which prevented further episodes for several years. “I wouldn’t be alive today if I hadn’t been proactive,” Sharon says.

After the Leissners’ cardiologist retired, HCMA referred Sharon and Jake to Dr. Mark Link at UT Southwestern, where they both had their ICDs replaced. Dr. Link has since helped them take control of their condition and improved their symptoms. “I feel like I’m in the best hands I could possibly be in with Dr. Link at UT Southwestern,” Sharon says. Dr. Link has encouraged them to be active and live their life, and that is exactly what they are doing. You can often find them fly-fishing and enjoying the outdoors.