Penn Heart and Vascular

Dominic's Experience with the Cardiac Arrhythmia Program

Dominic's Story

"I felt like I was out of options. Then I found the right surgeon with the right procedure."

Dom Pietropaula, 81, retired Philadelphia police officer

"My story started years ago. I had reached a point where I couldn't breathe. Seriously could not breathe, which is the worst feeling in the world. I'd be walking up stairs and have to stop, literally banging on the railing. I didn't know how to handle it, and I panicked when it started happening more often. My primary care doctor referred me to a cardiologist at Penn. I'm a retired Philly cop, born and raised here, and Penn is just where you go. Everyone knows it's the best. So I went.

Over the years, I had to have two angioplasties and then later, two stents and a pacemaker. I've had catheterizations in between. But other problems kept coming up. During those years, I was also diagnosed with prostate cancer and then celiac disease and anemia. So I was working with a lot of different doctors at Penn, and they were great about explaining everything to me and helping me understand what was going on.

Then in 2009, I went into atrial fibrillation. I found a surgeon at Pennsylvania Hospital, Dr. Garcia, who was excellent. He wanted me to have an ablation on top of one I had already had and I really didn't think it would work. But he said it would, and I trusted him. My family trusted him. And he was right. Six months later, I had passed the danger mark where ablations can grow over and fail. Mine worked perfectly and still does.

I finally feel great. And best of all, I have never had a heart attack, scarring or damage. That's amazing. These days, I help my 'older' friends go shopping every week, I drive, I go to the casino and I'm traveling to Florida alone pretty soon. I have seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren that I love. I'm glad I trusted my doctor at Penn. It was so worth it to get my life back."