92-year-old patient gets new heart valve without open-heart surgery
At 92 years old, Gloria Stack didn't think much about getting tired while stacking books as a library volunteer.
Well into her golden years, she thought it was normal, especially since she had no other symptoms. "[I] would have problems with breathing for a few minutes, but then I'd calm down," Stack told News 5.
But after getting an echocardiogram, she realized this wasn't just age. "The young lady told me that I had a valve tightening, or closing," Stack explained.
Dr. Rahul Sakhuja told us Stack's condition is known as aortic stenosis, where the artery to the heart closes up like a door with rusty hinges. "Traditionally, the only way we could do things were that heart surgeons had to open up your chest and remove the 'door' and put in a new 'door', because there's no WD-40 we can sprinkle on that lets the 'door' open up," Dr. Sakhuja explained.
But this great-grandmother with diabetes, open-heart surgery was too risky. That's why Dr. Sakhuja recommended her to be the second local patient to undergo a valve replacement with a catheter. "We push it through an I.V. in the groin, and we pass it just along their artery and just as all their arteries come back to the heart, and right there is where that valve is stuck," said Sakhuja.
Dr. Sakhuja said this new surgery method is a 'game-changer' for the elderly and other high risk patients who otherwise can't undergo an open heart surgery. "It's something that we don't see in medicine. We don't see these technologies come to medicine very often," added Dr. Sakhuja.
Now, Gloria Stack is back on her feet feeling as good as ever and ready to keep volunteering for years to come. "It leaves my life a little bit less stressful, and I don't have to worry about my heart," Stack said.
We learned doctors started this surgery in October of this year and perform a couple each month.
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