THE ONES FOR WELLNESS (CBSDFW.COM) — When talking about heart disease, you probably don't think of it being caused by a virus, but that's exactly what happened to one young man CBS 11 reporter Brooke Katz met.
It's a chance disease that can start with a routine cold or other infection, and experts say it most often strikes younger, healthier people with no other cardiac problems.
Kennedy Ngungutau was just 22 years old when he first realized something was terribly wrong.
"I was feeling weak, and had not been myself," Ngungutau said. He received a diagnosis he never expected — heart failure. "I felt shocked, because I'm the first one in my family to have this diagnosed."
His condition was brought on by some type of infection, possibly a viral infection, according to Dr. Cesar Guerrero with Baylor Scott & White Heart and Vascular Hospital. Dr. Guerrero told CBS 11 it's an unusual condition, but can happen to anyone.
"It's random," Dr. Guerrero said. "It could happen more frequently than we know."
For Kennedy, it meant getting something called a left ventricular assistance device (LVAD) — a mechanical pump that helps the heart get blood to the rest of the body. It was only a temporary solution, though, because Ngungutau needed a heart transplant.
And luckily for him, four days after being added to the transplant list, doctors found his new heart.
Now, the 24 year old has wrapped up his rehab and is on to a new venture. He is studying to be a nurse — but not just any nurse — he wants to work specifically with heart transplant patients.
"I'm just thankful that I could have another chance to live," he said. "I'm just thankful for this amazing heart that I have."
As for the symptoms of this condition, it can start with head and body aches, joint pain, fever, sore throat or diarrhea. You may later develop shortness of breath, swelling of your feet, ankles or hands. You may also experience dizziness or fainting.
Anyone displaying these symptoms is advised to get checked out by a doctor right away.
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