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Cardiologist's Experience as a Patient Leads to His Decision to Practice Medicine

02-06-2015

Mark Thompson, MD, has provided interventional cardiology services at CaroMont Heart since 2000. Former President of the Heart Society of Gaston County, Dr. Thompson is active in his role as Co-Service Line Director for the Cardiovascular Service Line at CaroMont Heart as well as in Gaston County in helping to educate and raise awareness about heart health in the community.

Interestingly, Dr. Thompson entered college as a Science major, but switched to Pre-Med in his sophomore year. At age 23, Dr. Thompson was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (Afib or AF), a serious heart condition that affects 2.7 million Americans, after experiencing a severe episode in college. His decision to become a doctor was solidified after a less than optimal experience in the health care setting when experts were trying to diagnose his condition. At the time, he recalls making the conscious decision to never forget what it felt like to be on the receiving end of health care and to ensure his patients are treated with compassionate care.

Most people with Afib are diagnosed later in adulthood, but Dr. Thompson has a rare condition that presented earlier in his life, most likely spurred by physical exertion from running track in high school and a family history of heart disease. Dr. Thompson describes his symptoms during and after an episode as though his heart is racing and “flopping around like a fish” and after it is over, he feels extremely fatigued and drained. Dr. Thompson had surgery as a young adult to try to correct his heart problem and had to undergo another procedure several years later, which is not uncommon in individuals with Afib.

Today, Dr. Thompson manages his condition with medication and by practicing healthy lifestyle habits like running, lifting weights and eating a well-balanced diet. He plans to represent CaroMont Health, along with many others from the organization, in the 5K portion of the Corporate Cup this year in Charlotte.

Dr. Thompson believes his life experiences and ability to understand and relate to his patients have made him a more successful doctor.

“I know what patients have been through and I can identify with them,” said Dr. Thompson. “Patients are not in the best state of mind when I see them, so I never want to overwhelm them with too much information. I always tell patients what I’m going to tell them, then explain the situation and remind them what I told them.”

New Treatment for Afib

CaroMont Regional Medical Center (CRMC) is the first hospital in the region to perform Arctic Front ®CryoAblation, a minimally invasive procedure that can be used to treat individuals with afib when medication fails.

Arctic Front ® is considered safe and effective for treating afib, has a lower risk of complication and has been used to treat over 20,000 patients in 200 centers worldwide. Findings from a large clinical trial found that almost 70 percent of patients treated with cryoablation were free from afib at one year, compared to 7.3 percent of patients treated with drug therapy only. Additionally, patients treated with cryoablation displayed a significant reduction of symptoms, a decrease in the use of drug therapy, and substantial improvements in quality-of-life factors. For more information about AF and this new procedure, please visit caromonthealth.org.

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