Thirty years ago, in 1987-88, I was treated for Hodgkin's Disease with radiation and chemotherapy.
Thirty years later, at age 55, though very fit and very active, I developed severe aortic stenosis (AS) and was told I need a valve replacement. I also have moderate stenosis of the mitral valve, which is likely to progress. The doctors say I have a classic case of radiation heart disease.
All the doctors said that radiation survivors should not do two open surgeries because the adhesions that occur after the first open procedure lead to poor outcomes for second open-heart surgeries. The Valve Center at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) recommended an open procedure now to replace the aortic *and* mitral valves with permanent mechanic valves; this was proposed as a "one and done" procedure followed by longterm blood thinners. The doctors I consulted at the Cleveland Clinic proposed a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). This is a so-called minimally invasive procedure which avoids open heart surgery. Cleveland has been a leader in performing TAVRs on people with radiation heart disease as a way of managing our risk factors more strategically. In my case, doing the TAVR now assumes the need for additional procedures down the road when the the tissue valve wears out and when my calcified mitral valve needs intervention. So I had a lot to think about. I struggled to decide which treatment path to choose, but ultimately settled on TAVR now for the aorta, holding onto my native mitral valve for now and saving the option of an open surgery for later if I need it.
The surgery went well, with no complications. The OR at the Cleveland Clinic was a sight to behold, and Dr. Krishnaswamy is a master of his craft. My TAVR procedure was on a Monday morning and they sent me home Wednesday. With twilight sedation, I hoped I would remember the actual procedure, but even though they say I asked some questions, I don't remember anything after they started my IV.
My aortic area has gone from 0.74cm to 3.3cm, and measured velocity and pressure are dramatically improved. Slight para-valvular leak but the doctor says that amount is common and not problematic. The most likely complication would have been a pacemaker, but so far I'm ticking away without one, which is especially fortunate given my right bundle branch block. Amazingly, the sound I hear when I lie down to sleep has changed from a loud whoosh to a pronounced beat--the first time I heard that was stunning. Hard to believe I had valve surgery earlier this week and I'm already feeling great and writing this.
So, I'm really happy about this outcome, and am hoping for some good years with my new aortic valve.
More Info About Me & My Heart
More About Me
I am from:
My surgery date is:
March 5, 2018
I was diagnosed with:
My surgery was:
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement