iHHub Heart Failure Patient Stories: Marija

Patient of the month: March 2018



The Lithuanian Heart Failure Association (ŠNSA) as an iHHub member shared Marija´s heart failure story.

Mrs. Tatjana Pirmaitiene from ŠNSA (the Lithuanian Heart Failure Association) (ŠNSA) member shared Marija´s heart failure story. Ieva mention that:  “when the organisation is telling these stories (people don’t really want to talk about their conditions or illnesses in Lithuania, they think it’s something to be ashamed of), they are helping the HF community. At the same time this helps fight with bureaucracy which causes the general public not to receive newest treatments and medicine.”


“I felt as if I suddenly became disabled, I needed help to manage the simplest of things.” “It wasn’t a cold, flu or some virus that would eventually go away, I was ill for the rest of my life.”


The heart was racing inside my chest

Marija (50) from Vilnius, Lithuania, was diagnosed with Heart Failure about a year ago.

“Last autumn I suddenly felt unwell, before that I had always been in good health, full of energy and life. I rarely saw my doctor and I could count on the fingers of my hands the number of times I was ill with something more serious.

I was always on the run with so many activities and things to do. I was never bothered by high blood pressure or any other problem. On the other hand, I didn’t really check my blood pressure. I didn’t have the monitor at home”.

“But then, my life made me slow down. I remember very clearly coming home from work that night, making dinner for the family, tidying the rooms and going to bed.  I couldn’t fall asleep. I felt really strange – like short of breath, nauseous. Then I went to the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror I got shocked. I looked like a ghost: very pale with dark under eye circles and blue lips. I went into the balcony to get some fresh air and then had a drink of cold water. Nothing was helping. I felt as if was being strangled.  I woke up my husband who called an ambulance. Having listened to the symptoms the paramedics told me what to do. I lied down and kept still until they arrived. The ECG results were abnormal, and my heart was racing like mad. I was taken to the hospital”.

In Santaros Clinics, Marija had her heart rhythm restored and she began to feel better. Before her discharge, the doctors insisted on a thorough health check as a matter of urgency. “As I was feeling fine I was in no rush to do the exams I didn’t think it was serious, I blamed my fatigue for being unwell. I returned to work.”

However, “my work colleagues and family were pressuring me not to delay with the tests. After all I did listen to them as I wasn’t feeling the same as before. Every day I felt more tired than usual, I was short of breath. Besides, I was in low spirits all the time,” In the end, following numerous tests, Marija was diagnosed with Heart Failure.


A brighter future thanks to a new generation drug

“It took me a long time to come to terms with the disease. Despite being a true optimist, I found it unbearably difficult at first. My diagnosis was not a cold, flu or some virus that would eventually go away anyway; I was ill for the rest of my life,” Marija is open about her experience. “At first I was prescribed traditional treatment with combination drugs available to all patients in Lithuania. Later my doctor Prof. Jelena Čelutkienė gave me a new generation drug the cost of which is not reimbursed to patients locally. This doctor is my guardian angel, just like all the other cardiology doctors, nurses and other specialists at Santaros Clinics. They do their best for every patient trying to prolong their lives as much as possible. I am deeply grateful to each and every of these doctors who spent so much time on my tests, examinations and discussions until finally the true reason for my ill health was discovered.”

For four months Marija has been on this new generation drug introduced to Heart Failure patients in other countries a few years ago. “Two months after being put on the drug, during an outpatient’s appointment with my doctor I was told that there was an improvement in my condition. It was still rather small but a step forward nevertheless.”