Heart Month

Quick diagnostic testing discovering a rare, aorta aneurysm found twelve years ago at Community Hospital saved Tim Meissner’s life. Today, he is doing very well and works at AKRS Equipment in McCook and North Platte.

Tim Meisnner

Rare Aneurysm Discovered Saving Man’s Life

Tim Meissner, of rural McCook, won’t likely forget the day in 2008 he was told by a visiting cardiologist in McCook to go to Lincoln. Nor will he forget the days following that led to emergent open heart surgery.

Tim, then 49, had been kicked by a calf and developed a large black and blue area on his leg. A couple of days later the discolored area grew more tender. Tim was concerned he might have a blood clot so he had a test performed at Community Hospital’s Medical Specialists Center. The test was negative for a blood clot but the technician was concerned about the swelling in Tim’s legs and requested a cardiologist see him.

Dr. Miller, a cardiologist from Bryan Heart in Lincoln who sees patients at Community Hospital, assessed Tim and ordered an echocardiogram. The test was performed that day, triggering alarming results, and Dr. Miller was promptly consulted. Tim was instructed to go to Lincoln immediately for further testing. He was diagnosed with an aneurysm of the aortic root.

The aorta is the largest artery in the body that carries the blood to the rest of the body. The aneurysm, a blood vessel that had ballooned out, had formed near the valves of the heart that regulate how and when blood is pumped through the body. Because the aneurysm had grown so large, the valves were unable to completely close and blood was leaking out, not being sent to the rest of the body.

Without treatment, the aneurysm could eventually rupture, leading to death, or the persistent leaking valves would strain the heart until the patient dies of congestive heart failure.

Tim and his wife Ellen traveled to Lincoln. Within 48 hours of being instructed to go to Lincoln, Tim’s aneurysm ruptured and he had lifesaving emergent open heart surgery. His aorta was repaired and he began recovery. Once released from the hospital, Tim began and completed cardiopulmonary rehabilitation at Community Hospital. Twelve years later, Tim reports he is doing well. He sees Dr. Miller for routine annual follow-ups.

Tim is grateful for the timely diagnostic testing that was done at the Medical Specialists Center and for the technologist and cardiologist who stepped in when things just didn’t seem right. Thanks to the tests and providers at the Medical Specialists Center, he was able to receive emergent cardiac surgery that saved his life.

Visiting Cardiologists

Of the forty visiting specialists from larger urban hospitals who see patients at Community Hospital’s Medical Specialists Center, seven of them are cardiologists including Keith Miller, M.D. who treated Tim Meissner in the story on this page. Among all the visiting cardiology specialists, the hospital has cardiology services available every week.

“We are lucky to have cardiologists with great skill and knowledge providing care in our area. It is very important to us to have state-of-the-art cardiac care right here at home. We know that early detection of heart problems whether pre-existing or a new condition can make a life-saving difference,” said Jennifer Liess, R.N., Community Hospital Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Coordinator. 

The Medical Specialists Center and Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Center are under construction with completion dates in the near future. Expansion of the Medical Specialists Center allows for more visiting specialists and additional patient visits. The second half of the new Medical Specialists Center will open mid-March. The Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Center, along with the drive-under canopy and entrance on the east side of the center, will be completed early summer.