WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Thanks to medical advances, surgeons can correct heart problems today that would have been fatal years ago.
Here's Health Plus with one eastern Iowa woman's success story.
If you've ever shopped at Fareway in Oelwein, you'll probably recognize Donna Anthes.
For 31 years she was a checker there.
But a heart problem forced her to get off her feet.
"Getting very tired, very weak, sweaty, just all kind of symptoms like that," she said.
Her symptoms led her to Waterloo's Covenant Medical Center and cardiologist, Doctor Cary Rose.
"And I listened to all of her symptoms and I listened to her whole story and it became clear that I thought she was suffering from a condition called cardiomyopathy," he said.
Rose says Donna's arteries were clear, but her heart muscle was weak.
"When that happens, they're at risk for two things; one, the heart stopping going into fibrillation and two, their life quality is terrible because they exist in a state of terrible heart failure."
Enter a relatively new device Rose had experience with.
It's called a biventricular defibrillator and it retrains heart muscle to restore function.
"What this device does is it educates the heart muscle to beat together in synchrony and that's what we did with her. And what we actually did was double the heart function. We're able to do this surgery without stitches. There are actually no stitches in her skin at all. Everything is done from the inside. That's how small these new devices have become. Surgery, cardiac surgery, without actual stitches," said Rose.
A perfect remedy for Donna.
"I have a lot more energy than I had before. I try to exercise more. I've lost weight. Got rid of my chocolate and my pop," she said.
And one that saved her life.
Online reporter/News Anchor: Tara Thomas