• By Cynthia Weiss

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Getting to the heart of the matter

August 29, 2021
Mayo Clinic cardiac patient Elizabeth Scovil smiling and sitting a hospital hallway

Ten years ago, Elizabeth Scovil, a 46-year-old wife and mother of four from Forest City, Florida, collapsed at the gym. Luckily some local paramedics were there and came to her rescue.

But then it happened again.

"I am an athlete. I was always working out," says Elizabeth.

She began experiencing episodes of dizziness, and her heart would beat rapidly. "It would go up to 150, 170 beats per minute all of a sudden. It can just take your breath away," says Elizabeth.

And that was the start of an almost yearlong journey to find a diagnosis.

"I was going back and forth to local doctors, and nobody could figure out what was wrong. I was feeling some racing arrhythmias in my heart, but every test that I had done locally, they found nothing to be wrong. I was so frustrated because I just I knew something was wrong with my heart," says Elizabeth.

A friend suggested Elizabeth try Mayo Clinic, which has a location in Jacksonville, Florida.

Taking time to listen

In August 2011, Elizabeth made the two-hour drive north and met with Carolyn Landolfo, M.D., a Mayo Clinic cardiologist. Right away, Elizabeth says she knew she was in the right place.

"I was so used to just being rushed in and out of appointments and saying so fast, 'Here are my problems' because you're usually hurried through your exam. But when I first met Dr. Landolfo, she told me to slow down," recalls Elizabeth. "She wanted to hear everything that happened to me the year prior. She listened. I knew I was in great hands from the very beginning with Mayo Clinic."

After a series of tests, which included exercising on a treadmill, and placement of an implantable loop recorder, which is similar to a continuous EKG monitor, Dr. Landolfo determined that Elizabeth had two distinct heart rhythm disturbances: supraventricular tachycardia, which came from the upper chambers of her heart, and ventricular tachycardia, which came from the lower chambers of the heart and was exercise-induced. Essentially, the electrical impulses that coordinated her heartbeats were not working properly. Both conditions caused a rapid heart rate and palpitations, and ventricular tachycardia, if left untreated, could be fatal.

Read the rest of Elizabeth's story.