• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: From history teacher to heart health advocate

September 17, 2017

cardiac patient Collin Markum walking on the beach with his wife and little boy
As a 37-year-old with no major medical problems, Collin Markum was shocked to learn he had a rare cardiac condition. Now after successful surgery and rehabilitation, Collin is working to help fund research and promote heart health.

By Collin Markum

It was early October 2016, and I was standing in front of my 11th  grade United States history class teaching when I began to not feel right. Even though I wasn't exerting myself any more than usual, I could feel my heart racing. I also felt short of breath. I finished the period and then sat down between classes. I finished the day with a little less motion and at a lower volume than what was my typical enthusiastic manner.

I figured it was probably dehydration: I was uptalking. Or stress: Hurricane Matthew was scheduled to pass through the area in a few days, and we had not done our emergency supply shopping yet. I felt better when I was resting, so I thought surely it would pass.

I told my wife, Michelle, a nurse at Mayo Clinic who had worked for years in Cardiology, that I wasn't feeling well. But I downplayed the effects. After all, I was only 37 and had never had a major health problem.

"He advised us to go to the emergency room immediately. Driving there I felt heavy anxiety, as this was clearly more serious than I had expected." — Collin Markum

Due to the inclement weather, school was cancelled for the rest of the week. We opted to ride out the storm in our house in Green Cove Springs, Florida. I still had a few instances of breathlessness and an elevated heart rate. My wife thought I should go to the emergency room, but I didn't feel terrible so long as I was at rest. That Sunday, Oct. 9, I taught a class at church even though I was drenched in sweat by the end of the lesson. Clearly, I needed to visit the doctor. Read the rest of Collin's story.


This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.