Ed Can Walk Up Stairs Again Thanks to a Mitral Valve & Maze Procedure!
By Adam Pick on April 28, 2020
He was short of breath. He could not walk up stairs. He was afraid. Then, Edward Clinton ended up in the emergency room.
Ed suffered from mitral regurgitation, a leaking heart valve, and atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm. To get help, Ed met with Dr. Patrick McCarthy, a leading cardiac surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Dr. McCarthy recommended a “concomitant” procedure to help Ed. During a concomitant procedure, Dr. McCarthy would treat Ed’s leaking mitral valve and the AFib in one operation.
This is Ed’s story…
Key Patient Takeaways from Ed’s Story
There were so many great points shared in this video by Ed and Dr. McCarthy:
- Mitral valve disease is very common (2% of people) and can be asymptomatic (without symptoms).
- Fatigue and shortness of breath for mitral valve patients can result from fluid build-up in the lungs.
- Atrial fibrillation (AFib) results from a “quivering” in the atria that can cause a stroke. According to the American Heart Association, patients with AFib are 5 times more likely to have a stroke.
- The Maze procedure, also known as a surgical ablation, is used to treat AFib. The Maze procedure is now a Class I recommendation for patients needing mitral valve surgery.
- For mitral valve patients, AFib is significantly under-treated at most cardiac centers.
- After surgery, Ed has no more symptoms and no more AFib.
- Ed is not on medications for AFib after the Maze procedure.
New Research About the Under-treatment of Mitral Valve Disease & Atrial Fibrillation
The point made in this video about the under-treatment of AFib during mitral valve operations is really important. As you can see in this new AFib Research Alert from AFibSurgeons.org, only 38% of patients with mitral valve disease and AFib get concomitant procedures. Yikes!
Thanks to Ed & Dr. McCarthy!!!
After sitting down with Ed, I really appreciated learning more about his patient experience and his journey to a healthy heart. My favorite quote from Ed was, “There comes a day, when you wake up in the morning, and you forget you ever had the mitral valve problem.”
Many thanks to Dr. McCarthy and the Northwestern Medicine team in Chicago for helping Ed and his family. A special thanks goes out to Dr. McCarthy who successfully treated Ed and over 150 patients in our community.
- See Dr. McCarthy’s Interactive Surgeon Profile
- Discover the AFib & Heart Valve Disease Learning Center
Keep on tickin!
P.S. For the hearing impaired members of our community, I provided a written transcript of the video below.
Edward Clinton: I felt afraid because I really was short of breath. I couldn’t walk up the stairs in my own house. I was really not well, general just a feeling of fear. My family was afraid, too. They were very worried about me. The day after Christmas, that night, I came to the emergency room at Northwestern.
I’d had a history of AFib for several years. It had come and gone. I had care here at Northwestern. They had done cardioversions. They told me that there was likely an issue with the valve.
Dr. McCarthy: Mitral valve regurgitation is very common. Almost 2% of the population have it, so we see it a lot. It may be totally asymptomatic. It comes on slowly over years in many patients. They adapt to it and their body adapts to it.
With the heart squeezing and the blood going backwards, people say, I get tired. I must be getting older. I’m up in my 50s or 60s. When they otherwise notice symptoms is because their lungs get congested and so their lungs are full of fluid.
Mr. Clinton also had a history of atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular heartbeat from the upper chambers, the atria. The atria are supposed to contract about 70 times a minute, your normal heartbeat, but instead, they’re just fibrillating or quivering. You can form a blood clot. It could break off and cause a stroke. A lot of people have atrial fib before they go through mitral valve surgery.
We’ve faced this problem for years that patients will have atrial fib. We’ve developed the maze procedure. In 2017, we made that a Class I recommendation such that if a surgeon is there for the mitral valve, in most cases, they should go ahead and treat the atrial fibrillation because it doesn’t add to the risk of the procedure.
Even though we’ve recommended, it still isn’t done as often as we think that it should be. The new data that we just put out showed that it was only in about 35% of patients. Other data indicate that it’s more like 50 or 60%. Here at Northwestern, it’s 97% of patients with atrial fib with mitral disease. We’ll treat it when we’re there.
Edward Clinton: The procedure from my perspective went great. First of all, as far as my general fitness, I would say that I feel great. I can go upstairs; I can walk; I can run on the treadmill. I have no issues with that at all, no shortness of breath. With respect to the AFib, it has been gone for quite some time and has not come back.
Dr. McCarthy: Mr. Clinton is doing great as do most patients that have this operation with the repair and the maze procedure. He’s not had any further atrial fibrillation since the surgery. His valve looks great. More than a year out after surgery and he’s feeling better.
Edward Clinton: Finally, I would say that I’m happy with the recovery and the procedure. It takes a while to regain your strength, but there comes a day when you wake up in the morning, and you forget you ever had the problem with the mitral valves. You’re back to where you were. I value the experience highly.
I thought Dr. McCarthy cares about his job as much or more than anyone I’ve ever meet in my life. I thought he was committed to his work; he cares about the quality of the work. He continued to visit me in the hospital to make sure that I was all right and getting along well. I can’t say enough good things about him. I really appreciate the effort he put in and the high quality of the hospital’s care.