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Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity Prepares For Open Heart Surgery | News

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Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity Prepares For Open Heart Surgery

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WUSA) -- "It hasn't hit me yet."

Pat Herrity has always been an athlete. He still swims and plays hockey several times a week. So its hard to believe that this 52 year old husband and father or two, will be having open heart surgery in April.

"My pulse is usually about 50 because I'm in fairly good shape. It went to between 100 to 160. The heart fluttering, the racing pulse. Those are the things that tell you you've got an A-fib problem," says Herrity.

After four bouts with irregular heart beat, doctors determined it was time for surgery to correct both atrial fibrillation, and his aortic aneurysm. They'll replace the portion of the aortic root that has expanded with an artificial section from a pig. Herrity's already had to make changes.

"I've gone cold turkey on the caffeine. And I'm use to eight to nine diet cokes a day," he says.

Herrity attributes his heart disease to heredity. His father, the late Jack Herrity, a 12-year chairman of the Fairfax Board of supervisors, had his first of three heart attacks in his 30s. After a heart transplant, he lived another 13 years. Herrity encourages anyone with a family history of heart disease to take it seriously.

"Have your blood pressure checked. And if you think you're having a problem, go see somebody. Those are two very simple things to do that can save your life," says Herrity.

Herrity's brother has the same problem and similar surgery 6 years ago when he was only 42. The siblings all got CT scans then and cardiologists realized they needed to keep an eye on Pat.
They noticed a slight expansion of that aortic root then, now, it's time for a replacement. Herrity believes he'd be in worse shape if he weren't physically active.

"I feel like if I were a couch potato or smoked, or overate, I would think I'm going into to this in much worse shape than I am today. I feel confident going into this because I have taken fairly good care of myself," says Herrity. .

Herrity says coming on other end of the surgery, he plans to make some improvements, such as staying off or cutting back on caffeine and cutting down on baked goods.