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Listen to Your Symptoms: Shortness of Breath Leads to Open Heart Surgery

Karen Rainwater loves spending time with her grandchildren. But a few months ago, a simple visit to see them created cause for concern.

She was reading a story to 5-year-old Sam and 2-year-old Mallie in December when her daughter noticed she was really short of breath.
Karen knew something wasn’t right. In fact, she’d been really tired and short of breath for about a month.

So she made an appointment to see Brandon C. Drafts, MD, FACC, a cardiologist with Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice.

Karen Rainwater reading with her grandchildren in West Columbia

After listening to Karen’s heart with a stethoscope for a few seconds, Dr. Drafts told her there was a problem.

“She had a prominent heart murmur that sounded like it could be a potentially severe mitral valve disorder,” Dr. Drafts said. “An echocardiogram showed severe mitral valve regurgitation. That occurs when the mitral valve leaflets don’t close correctly and cause blood to go backwards in the heart, leading to fluid build up in the lungs.”

Further testing showed that a cord, which holds one of the mitral valve leaflets in place, had ruptured.

In Karen’s case, a defect in the valve structure was to blame. In other cases, heart attacks or chronically weak and dilated heart muscle can cause mitral valve regurgitation.

The news surprised Karen. At 62, with a busy life, three grown children and three grandchildren, she had never had heart problems before or had a doctor tell her that her heart didn’t sound right.

Dr. Drafts consulted Jeffrey A. Travis, MD, of Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice.

“Because of the the cord tearing, Karen had congestive heart failure and would not get better without surgery,” Dr. Travis said.

Dr. Brandon Drafts

Within a few days of testing, Karen was staring down heart surgery during the holidays.

“I was absolutely shocked and asked Dr. Travis how long I’d be in the hospital,” she said. “He told me, ‘About a week, plus four to six weeks in recovery.’” I told him, ‘I don’t have time!’ It was less than two weeks until Christmas.”

But Dr. Drafts and Dr. Travis wanted to coordinate her care quickly. She received her diagnosis on Wednesday and had open heart surgery the following Monday.

“The heart undergoes changes when a valve fails, and the quicker you fix it, the less likely the changes will be permanent,” Dr. Travis said. “That’s why it’s important to listen to your body, and if you notice changes, seek medical attention.”

Karen had open heart surgery at Lexington Medical Center on December 18 and went home on Christmas Eve.

Dr. Jeffrey Travis

Her long-term prognosis is excellent.

“The quick coordination of care allowed Karen to get relief from her symptoms sooner and avoid any potential complications from congestive heart failure,” Dr. Drafts said. “I don’t think Karen initially realized how sick she was before surgery, but she feels significantly better now.”

Karen felt confident and at peace with all the care she received at Lexington Medical Center.

“While there have been some normal hurdles, recovery has been great,” she said. “Every day I can do something more than I did the day before.”

That includes more story time with the grandkids.

Gala Will Benefit 3-D Mammography at Lexington Medical Center

Join the Lexington Medical Center Foundation on Thursday, March 29 for the McDaniels Automotive Group Gala benefitting Lexington Medical Center’s Campaign for Clarity, a capital campaign to expand 3-D mammography throughout Lexington Medical Center’s network of care.

The black tie optional event will take place at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. It will feature live and silent auctions, music by The Root Doctors and catering from the Blue Marlin.

Live auction items at the gala include Hootie and the Blowfish Monday after the Masters tickets with VIP access; a party for 100 attendees at the Vista Room in Columbia with food, beer and wine from the Blue Marlin and live music; and a “Create Your Own Trip” package with a Ritz-Carlton hotel stay and international airline tickets.

Silent auction items include a Live PD Ride Along; four tickets to see the Eagles; a Seabrook Island golf weekend; and a driving experience at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta.

Also known as ‘tomosynthesis,’ 3-D mammography creates a group of three-dimensional pictures of the breast and allows doctors to view tissue one millimeter at a time, making tiny details visible earlier and easier.

Patients will find that 3-D mammography is no different from the mammogram they are accustomed to as far as compression, positioning and time. The benefit to patients is that the multiple layers of images resulting from 3-D mammography can help doctors better evaluate the breast tissue.

3-D mammography uses a low dose X-ray to create multiple images within seconds that are similar to the “slices” of images in a CT scan. The FDA-approved procedure uses the same type of equipment as a 2-D mammogram and a similar dose of radiation. Studies have shown that 3-D mammography also reduces false positives and unnecessary callbacks for patients with dense breast tissue.

To buy tickets for the gala, visit Individual tickets and sponsorships are available.

Clinical Trials for Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. It can be painful and debilitating. Many women suffer for a long time and it doesn’t get better, despite trying multiple treatments.

Vista Clinical Research can offer these patients new options that may finally help them feel better. As part of the Lexington Medical Center network of care, Vista Clinical Research has expertise in clinical trials involving all areas of women’s health, including endometriosis.

The Vista Clinical Research team

John H. Moore, MD, and Kathryn L. Moore, MD, are the physician investigators who oversee the clinical trials. Both also practice gynecology at Vista Women’s Healthcare, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice.

“When I focus on research, I think about the potential benefits to the patient,” said Dr. John Moore. “A lot of our patients have exhausted all other options. These methods are sometimes their last chance to achieve significant symptom relief.”

Dr. Kathryn Moore was interviewed in this WIS-TV news story about endometriosis this week. The story featured the stories of Midlands women who suffer with the condition.

In addition to endometriosis, Vista Clinical Research is also enrolling women in trials for uterine fibroids and bacterial vaginosis.

The physicians select the trials in which they want to participate. Each investigational medication has shown potential benefits in earlier studies, but must complete all FDA-mandated trials before being considered approved for widespread use.

To learn more about participating in one of these trials, visit