Hi Tammy. I'm Lin. I'm 60 years old and I have Dilated Cardiomyopathy, most likely caused by a flu virus getting into my heart years ago. The part of my heart that is stretched out from the Cardiomyopathy has been pulling on my Mitral Heart Valve and a small leak started a few years ago and just recently it had graduated to critical. I was sent to a Cardiologist specialist at a Trauma hospital a few hours from my home. He, and the Cardiac Surgeon assigned to my case, both decided that Open Heart Surgery would be too dangerous for me to fix the leak because my heart isn't strong enough to withstand the bypass and then restart after the surgery - because of the Cardiomyopathy. On 8 January of this year, I was admitted to that hospital and rather than the open heart surgery, the two doctors mentioned above performed a relatively new procedure on me called a Mitral Valve Clip Procedure. The procedure is similar to an Angiogram or Heart Catheter whereby they go in at the groin and push a clip up through either the veins or the arteries, I'm not sure which, up to the heart and insert the clip into the valve in the hopes that it will stop the leaking and the regurgitation of blood. In my case, open heart surgery had the most promising outcome had I been able to have it. Originally, they thought there was only a 15% chance that the clip procedure would work for me but after a series of invasive tests, they modified that to 85%. As it turns out, they had to put in 2 clips and there is still some regurgitation but it is minor. Before the procedure I couldn't walk across the room without gasping for air and without assistance. The day after the procedure, my DH and I were walking the halls of the Cardiac ICU unit. My function of my heart because of both the leaky valve and the Cardiomyopathy is only 24% right now but the difference in me is like night and day. I can climb stairs, walk, do housework, etc. without gasping for breath. I have more stamina, I'm happier as I'm not so worried and best of all, my DHs blood pressure has returned to normal as he's not so worried any more either. They warned me that this procedure would not cure/fix my existing cardiomyopathy but that it would make it easier for my heart to work. Boy, has it ever and the results are outstanding! If I had had open heart surgery, I would have had one long incision up my middle and 2 smaller ones to the side and the recovery time would have been approx. 6 months. The clip procedure required a small hole near my groin that didn't even require a stitch and another in my neck for a breathing tube that didn't require a stitch either. It's been less than 2 weeks and I am already driving, doing some housework, walking about, going to the Y to the pool, etc. This new innovative procedure is being done all over the world now on people who are unable to have open heart surgery to repair a leak in the Mitral Valve of the Heart but there are not many centres that have qualified teams to perform it. On the downside, no one knows how long the clips will be effective. In the hospital I was in, they've only ever performed 42 procedures and the oldest is about 7 years so far. I am optimistic that my heart will improve and that the clips will last a long long time. I feel so very fortunate to have been sent where I was to the doctors I saw. I hope that you too find relief from the effects of your leak and that it is repairable and in the very near future. It can be quite debilitating. If telling your story would be helpful, reply here or in an e-mail in the SP mail section for more privacy.
Lin from Peterborough, ON., Canada
10 STEPS TO SELF-CARE - If it feels wrong, don't do it; Say "exactly" what you mean; Don't be a people pleaser; Trust your instincts; Never speak bad about yourself; Never give up on your dreams; Don't be afraid to say "No"; Don't be afraid to say "Yes"; Be kind to yourself; Let go of what you can't control; Stay away from drama and negativity as much as possible. (unknown)
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