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YOUR HEALTH: Radiating the heart to stop a “ticking time bomb”

WQAD News -

ST. LOUIS, Missouri – When Patty Sweeney developed an abnormally rapid heart rhythm, she knew something was wrong.

"You could just feel like your heart was just pounding really hard, you know, like boom, boom, boom, like it was going to jump out of your chest."

Patty has ventricular tachycardia, a dangerously fast heart rate often caused by scar tissue in the heart.   When traditional treatments failed, she worried a heart attack was next.

"I was too young for that, you know? Just way too young for that."

Ventricular tachycardia is an abnormally fast heart rate that is like a ticking time bomb.   There are 350,000 sudden cardiac deaths in the U.S. each year

Then she found cardiologist Phillip Cuculich and radiation oncologist Cliff Robinson.

"These patients are oftentimes looking for any level of help, any hope," said Dr. Cuculich, a Washington University cardiologist.

The doctors are combining their expertise, shooting focused beams of radiation at the heart to destroy the scar tissue.

"This was definitely the first time that I had ever purposely radiated the heart," said Dr. Robinson, a Washington University radiation oncologist.

STUDY:   Dr. Phillip Cuculich says use of radiation as an alternative treatment came from the need to map the heart in a different way.   The procedure is noninvasive and it targets very specific parts of the heart.   Five patients were treated in the study.   This new procedure is faster than the original catheter ablation.   The five patients had a quicker recovery time and looked well the day after the surgery took place.   The study completed Phase I/ Phase II in 2017.   The next step is a multicenter trial that will begin after a follow up period with the patients.    The results of the study so far have been positive.   Arrhythmias have been observed to disappear almost immediately after the surgery has been performed.   The long term effects of the use of radiation are still unknown and being studied.

The first five patients in their study collectively had 6500 ventricular tachycardia episodes in the three months before treatment.   In the one year follow-up, that number dropped to four.

"It's almost this on/off switch where you go from having a problem to not having a problem and that flip, I think, is really impressive," explained Dr. Robinson.

It worked for Patty.

"I go to bed and sleep just fine now and I don`t lay there and worry."

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Oquawka man charged after attempting to strike officer with car in Galesburg

WQAD News -

GALESBURG, Illinois - Kaleb Holzheuser, 29, faces a number of charges after an officer-involved shooting in Galesburg yesterday.

Holzheuser is charged with several felonies, including aggravated battery to a peace officer.

Police say around 4 o'clock Thursday afternoon, officers attempted to perform a traffic stop along north Cedar Street.  Just as the officer was getting out of his car, Holzheuser swerved his vehicle toward the officer.

Officers fired shots at the car, but no one was hit.

Some neighbors weren't surprised to hear what happened.

"Well I left Compton (California) for the same reason," said Veronica Manzo. "But I guess a Compton to another Compton."

A group of high school-aged girls raised in Galesburg also say it's not uncommon to see police patrolling the 400 to 500 blocks of North Cedar Street.

The officer struck by the car has been released from the hospital.

Holzheuser is being held on $750 thousand bond and will be back in court on August 27th for a preliminary hearing. He had recently been relieved from the Iowa Department of Corrections for other previous charges.

Growing crime in Whiteside County has homeowners and businesses concerned

WQAD News -

MORRISON, Illinois  --  Whiteside County Sheriff Kelly Wilhelmi says the county is seeing a spike in burglaries, especially in rural areas.

On Wednesday, August 8, River City Fencing in Fulton, Illinois was broken into. Sheriff Wilhelmi says the business lost thousands of dollars worth of products. He says he believes the main reason behind the increase in burglaries is drugs, like methamphetamine.

"In order for people to get their drugs, they are stealing everything that isn't tied down," Sheriff Wilhelmi said. "We are having a lot of problems with break ins, theft of property in barns and farmsteads, things like that."

Deputies have not been able to make any arrests in the burglary cases, but they can see the drug problem in their own jail. Sheriff Wilhelmi says the county jail had 108 inmates on Thursday August 7. The jail is built for 67 inmates, but with doubling up, the county is able to hold 127 inmates. Sheriff Wilhelmi says that 108 is an unusually high number for his county.

Drugs and burglaries are not the only problem the Sheriff's department is facing. Deputies are also getting calls about a suspicious white van.  One incident involved a teenage girl in North Morrison. She said she was approached by two men in a white van. The van drove off when her father came around the corner, but the encounter scared them enough to call police. The sheriff says that have had six total different reports similar to that one.

The sheriff's department does not know if there is any connection between the burglaries and the vans, but he encourages the public to report anything they see.

"Give us a call," Sheriff Wihelmi said. "Get some information. If you see a car, get a description of the people, get a license plate number if you can."

A bright and warm summer weekend is up ahead

WQAD News -

A few isolated showers grazed our area this Friday afternoon, but they won’t be lasting too long after the sunset. We’ll see the sky clear out this evening with lows in the mid 60s. It will be perfect viewing for the Perseid Meteor Shower, which will peak this weekend! You can also catch it on Saturday and Sunday night.

Click here to learn where to look to see the meteor shower

Sunshine will stick around for both Saturday and Sunday, and we’ll easily warm up into the upper 80s on both days. Monday is looking bright and sunny as well with highs near 90.

While Tuesday is looking dry for the most part, showers and storms will begin to move in late in that night. More showers and storms are expected by Wednesday with highs in the mid 80s.

-Meteorologist Taylor Graham

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing date set for September 4

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(CNN) — President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the next Supreme Court justice — Judge Brett Kavanaugh — will start his Senate confirmation hearings on September 4, the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley announced Friday.

“He’s met with dozens of senators who have nothing but positive things to say,” Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said in a statement. “At this current pace, we have plenty of time to review the rest of emails and other records that we will receive from President Bush and the National Archives. It’s time for the American people to hear directly from Judge Kavanaugh at his public hearing.”

Grassley said he expects the hearing to last three or four days.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier Friday in a radio interview that he hopes Kavanaugh to be confirmed by the Senate “before the first Monday in October.”

CPO Amputee Golf Classic inspires participants and spectators in Bettendorf

WQAD News -

BETTENDORF -  Sports can inspire us with dramatic moments in big stadiums.  But in this case, Palmer Hills Golf Course is equally uplifting.

It's a beautiful setting for some triumphant moments. None are more elegant than watching Fred Hynd play golf.

"One day of golf is better than any day at work," he said, on Friday, August 10.

This is the first CPO Amputee Golf Classic. Fred is teaming with Tara Ferencik.  She built his prosthetic leg at its Rock Island clinic.

"He's done remarkably well," she said.

Fred, who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident 20 years ago, knows a thing or two about overcoming obstacles. That makes the chance to meet other amputees even more special.

"Talk to people and find out what happened to them," he said.  "How their's works, and what they went through."

After partnering for years in the clinic, Fred and Tara are playing golf together for the first time.

"I've never had the opportunity," she said.  "And since he's hitting all the good drives, we're glad to have him."

The reunion is full of fun and one-liners. Nobody's too serious in this foursome.  After all, they already defeated hardship.

This tournament is all about beating the odds. A hundred golfers are just stepping up to play.

"We rarely all get to get together and really celebrate their rehab progress," said Stacy Powers, Comprehensive Prosthetics and Orthotics. "Celebrate them getting back to quality of life."

For Fred and Tara, teaming in adversity - motivating on the golf course.

"You guys have got to be good because I'm not that good," Fred concluded.  "But, so far, I've kept all my drives on the fairway."

Winning our hearts along the way, too.



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