Patient story: Beating in good time

What’s better than one great heart expert working on you?
How about two?
Christopher Hamilton is pretty pleased with the results.

The 36-year-old father of two has managed asthma all his life, but he really began struggling for breath in May 2009. “I came down with the worst flu of my life,” Hamilton recalls. “It just never went away. I would feel better for a few days, then terrible again.”

With fall came soccer for his daughter Cede. He helped coach the team, but could barely lap the field with the girls at the end of practice. Just sitting, he sweated profusely and his heart raced at 180 beats a minute – more than double a normal heart rate.

There were fewer and fewer bike rides with the kids or hikes with the family. Even simple yard work was a struggle. Most days it was all Hamilton could do to make it to work as an education and outreach manager with the State of Oregon and continue his doctoral work in education at Oregon State University.

By November, he still hadn’t shaken the flu that had hit six months earlier. On Veterans Day 2009 he stepped out of his Salem home to clean the fish pond and nearly passed out leaning over the water.

“That was it,” remembers Stephanie, Hamilton’s wife of 12 years. “I was scared. I told him he had to go to the doctor. I knew it was his heart.”

Hamilton saw his regular physician in Milwaukie the next morning. His heart was so wild, she thought he was having a heart attack in the office and immediately sent him to Providence Portland Medical Center.

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