Tag Archives: mitral valve replacement

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.