After Massive Heart Attack, Mitral Regurgitation Diagnosis & MitraClip, David Dances Again!

By Adam Pick on February 6, 2020

First, he suffered a massive heart attack.  Then, he was diagnosed with severe mitral regurgitation.  He struggled to breathe. He was afraid.

Then… David Lugo, a father and mechanic from Chicago, heard about the COAPT clinical trial offered at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.  This unique research study investigated how the MitraClip could help patients like David.  This is his story.

 

 

On behalf of our patient community, I want to thank David for sharing his very personal story with me.  There is no doubt that David instantly became one of my favorite patient interviews.  His honesty brought me to tears.  His love for his family inspired me.  His ability to transform the perception of cardiac complications, like a heart attack, into an opportunity for personal growth downright fascinated me.  Thank you David!!!

 

David Lugo & Adam PickDavid  & Me After the Video Interview

 

I would also like to thank Dr. James Thomas and the entire team at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for taking care of David and his family. It is so great to see that after a heart attack, after a severe mitral regurgitation diagnosis, and after a MitraClip implant, David is dancing again!  Great job!!!!

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Keep on tickin!
Adam

P.S. For the hearing impaired members of our community, I have provided a written transcript of the video below.

David Lugo:  I remember going to the hospital because I was afraid. I knew something wasn’t right. Having a heart attack, I get little flashbacks here and there. Sometimes, it takes something else to bring out what your issues really are and how something as drastic as that heart attack can change your life for the better.

 

Dr. James ThomasDr. James Thomas (Northwestern Memorial Hospital)

 

Dr. James Thomas:  Now, Mr. Lugo presents a classic case of what we call secondary mitral regurgitation. His leaflets were normal, but he’d suffered a heart attack, and so parts of the leaflets were tethered outward by the damaged part of his ventricle that made him short of breath and really limited his activities.

David Lugo:  They told me I have mitral regurgitation. Because of that, my valves are not sitting properly anymore. That’s what’s causing me to be breathing heavily.

Dr. James Thomas:  Now, his options were to go to surgery, but the surgical outcomes have never really proven that helps them over the long run. There was a new device that was available called the MitraClip. Now, the problem is that when the MitraClip was initially approved, it was only approved for primary mitral regurgitation. To get a better understanding of its utility in secondary MR though, we needed to do a trial called the COAPT Trial. That took patients just like Mr. Lugo. They had to have heart failure and they had to have severe enough mitral regurgitation to justify getting the MitraClip.

 

MitraClipThe MitraClip (Abbott)

 

David Lugo:  When they told me about the program, I was willing. I said, “Sure, let’s give it a shot.” My daughter was getting married. My son was coming back home. You’ve got to survive this. In case you want to see your grandchildren, start caring.

I started changing my ways. I just put my life in these doctors’ hands because I’m not educated like they are. I can work on cars and trains; I can work on the house. They can’t do that. I just felt like, dude, let the doctors handle their part and believe in them.

Dr. James Thomas:  The MitraClip really has revolutionized our approach to mitral valve disease. The MitraClip allows an option for being treated just with a little catheter that goes up your inferior vena cava, pokes through the interatrial septum to get to the left atrium. Then literally using ultrasound to guide the interventionalist, it goes through the valve. These little alligator clips open up and they grab the leaflets and hold them together.

Here is a video animation that shows how a MitraClip is implanted:

 

 

David Lugo:  After the MitraClip, I think it was over before I knew it. Next thing I know, in the next few days I started noticing, you are feeling better. Your heart is not grasping for that oxygen. You’re not as tired. You can move forward. You can do more. Before, I couldn’t dance; now, I’m dancing better. Not better; I can’t dance anyways, but I’m having more fun on the dance floor.

Dr. James Thomas:  Mr. Lugo has done great since his MitraClip. I think it has improved his symptoms. Certainly, his mitral regurgitation has been reduced almost to nothing and has a very good functional recovery from the procedure.

David Lugo: From thinking that I wasn’t going to be around, I know I’m going to be here tomorrow; where before, I didn’t think I was going to make it through the night. Yeah, I think it changed my life completely. My doctors are the ones that saved me from Day One from the beginning of my heart attack to the end of my surgery. I know they did a great job. Anybody ever asks me, where did you go, I’ll tell them, Northwestern. Those are the heroes in my life.

 


Written by Adam Pick
- Patient & Website Founder

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

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