Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bills Pile Up for 21-Year-Old Dealing with Heart Failure

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bills Pile Up for 21-Year-Old Dealing with Heart Failure

Article excerpt

Byline: Mary Maraghy, County Line staff writer

Charles Akin of the Greenwood subdivision assumed his 21-year-old son, Sean, was being lazy and milking a minor chest cold.

"I told him to get up and do something around here," said the elder Akin, who later learned that his son wasn't slacking off, but instead was suffering from severe heart failure.

"I had him out there mowing the grass," Akin said. "I didn't know the extent of it."

The younger Akin had been healthy his whole life, played football in the street with his friends every day after school and has done heavy labor installing air conditioners and painting.

A month ago he thought he had a stubborn cold. But an X-ray showed an enlarged heart and a blood clot in a heart chamber. He said if he hadn't been push-starting his vehicle to leave the X-ray lab, the radiologist may not have caught him in the parking lot to tell him to get to the emergency room immediately.

"This could have killed him," said Akin's doctor, E. Rawsan Griffin III of Orange Park, who said the fact that Sean was pushing his car while having heart failure could be a promising sign that he may be strong enough to get well.

Akin had a virus that spread to his heart, a condition called viral myocarditis.

According to the American Heart Association, myocarditis is inflammation of the myocardium or heart muscle caused by a viral, bacterial or fungal infection, diphtheria, rheumatic fever, toxic drug poisoning or tuberculosis.

Griffin said half the people who suffer viral myocarditis get well eventually, 25 percent experience heart failure that is treatable with medication and 25 percent need a heart transplant or they will die.

"We won't know where he fits for about six months," Griffin said. "We're giving him meds to control his heart failure and waiting for his heart to heal itself. …

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