Vi was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in Vietnam at the age of 15. He was at a routine doctor’s appointment when his doctor heard a loud heart murmur and asked him if he had a congenital heart problem, which confused him because it was the first time anyone had said anything about it. The doctor sent him for an echocardiogram and then to a cardiologist. Only 24 hours passed between the time the murmur was heard and a diagnosis of HCM.
There is no history of HCM in his family, Vi is the first person to be diagnosed, and he hasn’t found anyone else in his family with symptoms like HCM.
At the age of 20, Vi was living on the East Coast of the U.S. and after almost fainting, he was given an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. Luckily his device has never fired. The decision to get him an ICD was made very quickly. He says,
“I nearly passed out on a Monday and had the ICD implanted on Wednesday, so there was no deliberation, it just happened”.
Three years later, in 2015, Vi had a severe obstruction of the blood leaving his heart which showed up as symptoms such as shortness of breath and a very limited ability to exercise. Because of this, he had a myectomy (open heart surgery) at the University of Michigan, which is a Center of Excellence for HCM. After his surgery, he feels much better. He is now 30 and feels very optimistic and happy at this point in his life. He enjoys kayaking, biking and running, things he thought he would never be able to do with HCM. He has even run a 5K! He says, “I’m at the happy peak in HCM with no symptoms and no limitations.”[VTBT1]
Vi does biomedical research on a variety of topics, including HCM. As a college student, he applied to work with Dr. Day at the University of Michigan HCM center and was accepted. He worked as an intern there for 2 summers and full-time for another two years after he graduated from college. He is currently in a Ph.D. program that he hopes to finish this year. He would like to continue to research treatments for HCM after he receives his Ph.D.
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To learn more about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), go to https://www.4hcm.org.
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