After hearing the story of her 10 cardiac surgeries and seven pacemakers, you could be forgiven for thinking that Heidi Dohse has a weak heart. But the Google executive, endurance cyclist and, now, inspirational speaker she may have a stronger heart than most people on the planet.
Dohse, a senior program manager at Google and upcoming keynote speaker at DeviceTalks Minnesota, was 18 when an EKG before a routine knee surgery to clean out scar tissue, which had built up during her days as a competitive skier and professional windsurfer, uncovered a rare and potentially deadly arrhythmia.
“It turns out 270 [beats per minute] is not normal,” Dohse told MassDevice.com recently.
That routine EKG visit turned into a 30-day stay at University of California, San Francisco’s cardiac care unit, she told us, where she became essentially a research subject as doctors tried to decipher a rare arrhythmia that caused her heart rate to fluctuate from 270 BPM to 12 BPM.
Eventually, Dohse was asked if she wanted to participate in an experimental AV node ablation surgery, performed by Dr. Melvin Scheinman. It was then that she was implanted with the first of her seven pacemakers.