For 72-year-old José Freire, life has been about paving his own way. Mr. Freire left Spain when he was 14 years old, and after immigrating to the US he made a career in construction and truck driving for close to 50 years. Though he was a laborer, his real labor of love was fishing, a passion he learned from his father as a boy.
When he retired five years ago, Mr. Freire went full-time to his love of the water and bought a boat, the Estrella del Mar, named for his first love, his wife Estrella.
According to Mr. Freire, he was never sick a day in his life. But shortly into his golden years, the angler began experiencing moments of lost consciousness. He started to seek answers from his physicians, but all of his vital signs were normal.
One afternoon, Mr. Freire was fishing on the dock when he suddenly blacked out, breaking his leg in the fall. His doctors were left fishing for answers as to why.
Mr. Freire linked up with Marcin Kowalski, MD, an electrophysiologist at Staten Island University Hospital. An electrician of the heart, Dr. Kowalski performed a full electrical physiology study that showed Mr. Freire had a normal cardiac conduction system.
He implanted a new cardiac recording device under Mr. Freire’s skin called a LINQ to monitor his heart 24/7. The device remotely transmits information back to the cardiologist for real-time review and can identify problems immediately.
With a battery life of three years, the LINQ offers plenty of time to diagnose cardiac abnormalities. Luckily for Mr. Freire, it only took a few days for the LINQ to offer a clear signal to the cause of his problems.
“I came home from the hospital and I was watching TV and fell asleep,” Mr. Freire recalled. “The next thing I know, I got a call from Dr. Kowalski’s office saying I passed out.” Dr. Kowalski’s team told Mr. Freire that the LINQ recorded two minutes where his heart stopped; causing his blackouts.
With the arrhythmia discovered, Dr. Kowalski quickly implanted a pacemaker to correct Mr. Freire’s issue.
“In patients who might have arrhythmias, or are suspected of having abnormal heart rhythm, this is the perfect way of catching it,” Dr. Kowalski explained.
“Arrhythmias and abnormal heart rhythms can occur sporadically and infrequently,” Dr. Kowalski explained. “It is very difficult to catch them or to record them. However, if you have a LINQ that records continuously, the arrhythmias can be found and treated.”
Since the LINQ recorder findings, Mr. Freire’s spells have stopped and he’s back out on the water. As a new lucky charm, he wears his LINQ recorder on his chain next to his cross.
“Today, I’m like a new man,” explained Freire from his boat. “I believe in this [pointing to his crucifix]. I believe in this [pointing to the LINQ] too. It saved my life.”