I am 34 years old and athletic. I was a collegiate swimmer and have been swimming lifetime bests in my 30s, including 3 lifetime bests in April of 2015 despite looking back and knowing I had aortic regurgitation at the time.
I have been borderline high blood pressure most of my life, at least since college. Knowing about my pre-hypertension and family history with heart issues, I've obsessively eaten cleanly and worked out regularly.
I had a radiofrequency catheter ablation for atrial flutter in February 2013. Valves and everything else were allegedly very healthy at the time, but then I started noticing a wide pulse pressure (that got wider and wider) starting around April 2014. This concerned me because my diastolic blood pressure kept getting lower and lower - it was a sudden and significant change from my past, and I had been tracking blood pressure regularly for years. The doctors kind of blew off my concern, but I started feeling a thrill in December 2014 and started experiencing fatigue, especially when working out, starting around July 2015. I self-diagnosed myself as having aortic regurgitation in early August 2015, which I confirmed with my cardiologist via an echocardiogram on August 27, 2015.
I pretty much knew my options before being diagnosed and was ready to get my valve replaced as soon as possible. After my TEE on September 4, 2015 showed a trileaflet valve with no signs of stenosis, calcification, disease, or aorta/aortic root dilation, I started investigating repair as an option.
I'm ready to have surgery as soon as possible so I can start recovery and get back to working out regularly, but I am currently searching for the right surgeon. I know repair is difficult and may not be an option. I am at peace with an aortic valve replacement, but since my valve appears healthy but for the right-coronary leaflet prolapsing, I am currently exploring the possibility of aortic valve repair with some of the best surgeons in the country to make sure I explore all options for treatment.
As a final note, my CT angiogram on September 8, 2015 showed no additional problems, i.e., my arteries are all clear, the aorta appears normal, etc.
I went in for surgery at Cedars-Sinai with Dr. Trento on Friday, November 13, 2015. The plan was to attempt a repair but replace the valve with an On-X mechanical valve if Dr. Trento was not satisfied with the repair. They repaired the valve and took me off the pump to test it out but were not happy. They therefore tried to repair the valve some more and tested it again. They were happy with the results, despite some mild leakage, and decided the repair with mild leakage would be much better than a replacement valve.
There were numerous factors the surgeon considered when decided to stick with the repair, despite mild leakage. Besides the more obvious factors such as no anticoagulation therapy and a more natural blood flow, the surgeon was surprised to find my aorta (and such) so small, especially considering my height. He felt like replacing the valve in such a small slot would be more difficult than normal and could create additional risks.