I’m Dan, I just turned 61, and I’m an avid runner and hiker. I run 1,000 miles/yr, have run over a dozen half marathons and four marathons including Boston.
• A routine doctor’s appointment at a family care clinic on 2/24/2022 detected a heart murmur. This was my very first news that I had a heart problem.
• A cardiac ultrasound led to the diagnosis of severe aortic stenosis. My aortic valve is messed up enough that it's not clear if it's bicuspid but the cardiologists who have seen the echo suspect it's bicuspid.
• A cardiac catheterization was done to check on my coronary arteries in case they needed attention during open heart surgery. The coronary arteries checked out OK – not great, but nothing warranting bypass or stints or anything else.
• I met with both an interventional cardiologist and a cardiac surgeon at my local hospital and they both recommended replacing my failing aortic valve with a mechanical valve.
• With support of my primary care doctor and encouragement from a good doctor friend at John Hopkins, I sought a second opinion at the University of Washington (UW).
• I had a consultation session with two cardiologists (including Dr. Catherine Otto, one of the country’s top experts on aortic stenosis ) on 4/12/2022. They saw something in the ultrasound results that raised concerns about a possible aortic aneurysm so they ordered a CT scan. They also mentioned that I might be a candidate for a Ross Procedure surgery and referred me to meet with a UW cardiac surgeon who specializes in the Ross Procedure, Dr. Christopher Burke.
• I received the CT scan on 4/20/2022 and it did reveal an ascending aortic aneurysm with diameter of 4.04 cm. The aortic diameter is just above the upper limit of “normal” and they wouldn’t do surgery now if that was my only issue.
• I work as a scientist and part of my coping approach for medical problems is to become as informed as possible. I reviewed many medical journal articles and best practice guidelines. At 61 years old, I fall into a grey area where there isn’t a clear decision on treatment (mechanical valve vs. pig/cow tissue valve vs. Ross Procedure).
• The more I read, the more convinced I became that the Ross Procedure with a Ross-experienced surgeon was my preferred treatment for my situation. There are an increasing number of research papers published over the past few years that provide evidence of promising long-term outcomes for Ross Procedure patients. For example, see this March 2022 paper: Propensity-Matched Comparison of the Ross Procedure and Prosthetic Aortic Valve Replacement in Adults. El-Hamamsy et al. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. https://www.newswise.com/pdf_docs/164502316777182_El-Hamamsy%20Ross%20Manuscript.pdf
• The Ross Procedures videos on www.heart-valve-surgery.com, including the interview with Dr. Burke, and the Ross Procedure surgery videos narrated by Dr. Burke on the UW website, heightened my interest in the Ross Procedure even further.
• I had an informative meeting with Dr. Burke at UW on 5/2/2022 where we discussed the pros and cons of all treatment options. We reached agreement at the end of the consultation to move ahead with the Ross Procedure and the surgery is scheduled for 7/19/2022.
• It's a big relief to have a treatment plan that I consider the best available option for me at a highly experienced cardiology center.
• I have been running with a fitness watch that tracks heart rate data for the past 5 years and 1,000 runs. After my aortic stenosis diagnosis, I was curious to look at the HR data and I've shared a couple of graphs of monthly average running stats in the Photos tab. The graph of the first 2.5 years and first 500 runs looks normal (both pace and HR declined as I shifted from road running to trail running). The second graph of the most recent 500 runs is not normal with the pace line and HR lines crossing in the summer of 2020. Even though I don't have symptoms at rest, this fitness-related impact has been of keen interest to each of the cardiologists I've met with and factored into my treatment decisions.
More Info About Me & My Heart
More About Me
I am from:
My surgery date is:
July 19, 2022
I was diagnosed with:
Bicuspid Aortic Valve
My surgery was:
Aortic Aneurysm Replacement