“Even Though I’m Already Diagnosed With Mitral Regurgitation, Is It Possible I Will Never Need Heart Valve Surgery?” Asks Debby
While at the Mitral Conclave, I was fortunate to meet with Dr. Kevin Accola, a leading mitral valve surgeon from Orlando, Florida. During our discussion, I asked Dr. Accola a question submitted by Debby about mitral valve repair. (Click here to learn about mitral valve repair operations.)
Debby asked, “I was diagnosed with a severe mitral regurgitation disorder over 5 years ago. Now, at 42, I have no symptoms or health concerns. Is it possible that I will never need a mitral valve repair? Or, is that wishful thinking?”
Thanks to Debby for her question. And, a special thanks to Dr. Kevin Accola for sharing his clinical expertise with us!
For those of you who are hearing impaired, please find below a transcript of our discussion.
Adam: Hi, everybody. It’s Adam and I’m coming to you from Mitral Conclave in New York and I’m thrilled to be standing next to Dr. Kevin Accola who’s practicing out of Orlando in Florida. We have a question for Dr. Accola that comes in from Debbie and she says, “I was diagnosed with severe mitral valve regurgitation over five years ago. I’m now 42 and I have no other symptoms or health concerns. My question is: Could it be possible that I will never need a mitral valve repair or mitral valve replacement or is that wishful thinking?”
Dr. Accola: Adam, that’s a great question because about 15% of women have some form of mitral valve prolapse. Sometimes it’s severe. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s just a little bit of a prolapse where the heart valve isn’t even leaking. Unfortunately, Debbie, since she does have some regurgitation already, in all probability this may go on to progress particularly as she ages and there’s something wrong inherently with the valve that will allow the valve to become more prolapsed and it will continue to leak. She’s right on track by continuously every six months or four to six months getting an echo to monitor the amount of leak as well as the progression of the valve disease. We want to make sure that her left atrium doesn’t begin to get enlarged. That can precipitate atrial fibrillation. We want to make sure that her ventricular function stays intact and it doesn’t start to become dilated or weaker. So she’s doing all the right things, Adam. I think that’s it’s important that she stays active and that she doesn’t become paralyzed by this because if it does progress, particularly before a lot of symptoms, I’d recommend that Debbie sees a cardiovascular surgeon and even considers, if it is a very highly likely repairable valve, that a valve repair may be in her best option. But to answer her initial question, as long as she’s not having symptoms and the valve isn’t leaking severely, if she doesn’t have a real mechanical problem with the valve, she may be able to go for some time. But she’s doing all the right things, getting it frequently checked, staying active, continuing to watch her other health concerns, but I would continue to impress upon her that she just needs to have this followed.
Adam: Great. Well, there you have it. Dr. Accola, I just want to thank you for all of your help…
Dr. Accola: Oh, it’s my pleasure.
Adam: You’ve done incredible things for a lot of the patients and the caregivers out there. I just really want you to know how much we appreciate your pursuit of healthy hearts and healthy heart valves.
Dr. Accola: Well, we appreciate you, Adam. A lot of the things you’ve done from a grassroots movement. The patients want to hear from people like you that have not only experienced heart surgery but from that side of the fence because we can tell them statistically and from a medical perspective, but you can tell them from the heart, so to speak. So I think it’s so important that they hear things from you because you can tell them, you know, okay, this is the real deal. Regardless of statistics and everything else, you can share with them your experience so that’s huge and I want to just thank you doing all you do.
Keep on tickin!
Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.