The walk to his Madison Ave. office from Penn Station was always a nice way for Thomas Gurry to start his day. However, in 2012 the Syosset, Long Island resident began to feel lightheaded and struggled for breath during his several block commute.
“It started to get progressively worse and felt like someone was hitting me in the chest with a brick,” recalled Gurry, a partner in a data-base marketing firm. “I was having to stop more and more and started passing out.”
An Air Force medic for four years who spent 18 months in the Philippines during the Vietnam War, Gurry thought it was a breathing issue, related to his having smoked for more than 30 years. A Long Island pulmonologist started treating him for COPD, a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that makes it hard to breathe, but Gurry got increasingly worse. He was referred to a local cardiologist, who diagnosed him with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a life-threatening condition and a common cause of heart failure.
Researching the condition led Gurry to one of the pre-eminent cardiologists in the field, Dr. Srihari S. Naidu, director of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Program at Westchester Medical Center, the flagship of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network.
Gurry saw Naidu in the fall of 2016, and an echocardiogram with a pre-specified protocol for the disease confirmed the HCM diagnosis. “I’ve seen a lot of doctors,” said Gurry, also a cancer survivor. “Naidu was very direct, listened and asked a lot of questions. He was the only one who asked me if I had breathing issues after eating, a sign of this condition,” he said.
To continue reading Gurry's story of survival, visit Advancing Care in the Hudson Valley.