Faith is what kept Chaz Hill Strong even when his heart was not. Doctors discovered the fainting spells he often experienced were caused by extra heartbeats.
Hill is a full-time student at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, where he majors in business. He also continues to work toward an associate's degree in English as a second language.
Doctors discovered something was wrong with Hill after he made a trip to the emergency room shortly after he cut his thumb while working at Chick-fil-A.
“When I arrived at the ER, my heart rate was at 34 beats per minute, which is extremely low. They could not figure out why that was that way,” Hill recalled. “So they scheduled an appointment for me to meet with a cardiologist here in town.”
Hill stated after a few months of tests he met with a cardiac electrophysiologist — who specializes in diagnosing and treating electrical activities of the heart — in Dallas.
After going through an MRI, doctors were concerned that Hill might have Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia, which causes the muscle tissue in the heart to turn to scar tissue. This condition prevents the muscle from sending electrical signals through the body.
The disease can be treated but not cured. For a long-term quality of life, the only option is a heart transplant.
Additional tests could not verify that Hill had ARVD, but it found another condition. Ventricular Tachycardia and Premature Ventricular Contractions were discovered after he went through an electrocardiogram, an electrophysiological study, evaluations by cardiac specialists, and the wearing of a heart monitor. The condition produces extra heartbeats.
“I had to quit my job at Chick-fil-A because of fainting spells any time that I did any physical activity. I struggled with what we would call an episode, where I could feel like my heart beating out of my chest. I could feel the extra beats,” Hill remembered. “We found out that 26 percent of my heartbeats were extra beats. I had about 40,000 extra beats per day. The normal person with this disorder has about 5,000 extra beats per day.”
To correct this medical condition, Hill went through a Cardiac Ablation on Nov. 14, 2017.
The Mayo Clinic website states the procedure to fix this issue is to scar or destroy tissue in the heart that allows false electrical signals to cause an abnormal heart rhythm.
According to Baylor, Hill went through a minimally invasive procedure that treated the inside of his heart.
The process involved introducing catheters equipped with tiny electrodes through a vein in Hill’s groin and up into his heart. It targeted the area producing the abnormal electrical activity that was causing his irregular heartbeats. The electrodes recorded the electrical activity in his heart and delivered heat via radiofrequency energy to the targeted areas to block the abnormal activity.
“I ended up going into an irregular rhythm on the table. I had an extra beat every heartbeat. So my heart would have a normal beat and then an extra beat right after that,” Hill said. “Then I had an allergic reaction to (some) medicine when I was on the table. That surgery itself took about five hours and was not successful. I still had extra beats after that.”
Hill added that doctors determined what was causing the extra beats was on the outside of the heart. A second procedure took place on Dec. 14, 2017.
According to Baylor, the two-hour procedure targeted areas on the outside surface of Hill’s heart and used the same radiofrequency energy to treat the areas that were causing the abnormal beats. Doctors mapped the outside of the heart to locate the area that needed to be addressed.
Hill shared there were times that he was in disbelief, but he said God remained faithful in bringing him through this challenging time in his life.
Along with being helped physically, Baylor also assisted on the financial end forgiving all of Hill's medical bills.
“I sent in for financial assistance. I am below the poverty level because I am going to school. I don’t have a job because I had to quit because of the heart issues,” Hill said. “Because I am below the poverty level they completely forgave all of my bills. I was expecting a little bit of assistance, but I was not expecting (forgiveness) completely.”
Since the procedure, Hill stated he has a lot of energy and has not had any issues with his heart. He is required to wear a monitor that is implanted in his chest for the next year and will meet with his doctor at that time. Hill is also planning to take a trip this coming summer with the university.
"I am going on a trip this summer with SAGU. We are going to Northern Asia to teach English as a second language to college students," Hill stated. "If we had not found out about this condition and I was to travel with it who knows what would have happened. So just the opportunity to do that is amazing.”
Hill attributes the newfound energy to God watching over him. He feels that God has a lot more in store for him in the future.