Dallas Man’s Flu Symptoms Lead to Open Heart Surgery – NBC Chicago

What started as flu-like symptoms led to open heart surgery for a Dallas man.

The symptoms of heart disease were completely unexpected, but the 34-year-old said he’s grateful it was caught before it was too late.

Nick Hauser was a seemingly healthy and active 34-year-old husband and new father until his heart scare in November 2022.

An avid golfer and marathon runner, he said he when came down with symptoms of a severe cold last fall, the last thing he thought of was his heart.

“I tried to self-diagnose myself and was online. I thought it was bronchitis based [on] the symptoms,” said Hauser. “Really, the tipping point was Sunday night, sitting with my family, holding baby James, watching the Cowboys game, and just couldn’t breathe,” he said.

He went to the emergency room at Baylor University Medical Center, where doctors discovered that his flu-like symptoms, like coughing and shortness of breath, were caused by a leaky valve in his heart, a condition he was born with.

Doctors also discovered a blood cot and a potentially deadly condition, an aortic aneurysm that could rupture and kill him at any moment.

That meant immediate open heart surgery.

“The doctors were being very honest with me and said, ‘You know, survival rates weren’t necessarily great and it just was a hard surgery.’ It was very hard for us,” said Hauser.

Fortunately, Hauser’s surgery was successful.

He endured months of intensive cardiac rehab to strengthen his newly repaired heart. With the help of Tiffany Shock, an exercise physiologist and cardiac rehabilitation center supervisor at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

“One thing I commend Nick for was paying attention to his symptoms. He had talked himself into that it was bronchitis,” said Shock. “It doesn’t matter your age. If something’s not right, it needs to be addressed, and that it could be heart disease,”

Hauser has stayed motivated through his unexpected heart journey knowing he’s lucky to be alive. He’s close to reaching his goal of being as active as he was before, but above all, he’s on a heart-healthy path that will keep the 34-year-old here for the people he loves most.

“That was most important to me, being healthy, being a father, being a husband and just being here for a while. Not leaving my wife and my baby,” he said.

Hauser will stay on medications for the rest of his life to ensure his heart stays as healthy as possible.

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