Kathleen was born with a biscuspid aortic valve, which means instead of having three cusps that open for blood flow, two of the cusps are fused together. This caused Kathleen’s heart to work harder by pumping blood through a smaller, restricted opening. Kathleen loves to be active outdoors. She is an avid hiker and climber and is very physically fit. She dealt with heart palpitations for years and regularly saw a cardiologist to monitor her heart valve condition.
In the Fall of 2013, Kathleen’s condition reached a critical level. Now when she exercised it was not only becoming harder to breathe, but she was also feeling light-headed. Kathleen’s cardiologist, Dr. Martin O’Riordan, referred her to the Mercy Valve Center for immediate follow up with Dr. Richard Hunn, a cardiologist specializing in valve conditions and Dr. Steven Weiss, a cardiac surgeon.
In the clinic, a carefully conducted stress test revealed that during exercise, Kathleen’s light headedness was due to a dangerous blood pressure drop because of her narrowed aortic valve. In collaboration with her referring physician, Dr. Hunn and Dr. Weiss recommended that Kathleen undergo heart surgery to replace the faulty heart valve right away. Having done her own research and consulting the physicians at length, Kathleen knew she had to act quickly in order to prevent serious repercussions, including death.
Kathleen recalls, “Without surgery, I knew my life was in jeopardy, so the decision was easy to make! Dr. Weiss, Dr. Hunn and Dr. O'Riordan are fantastic, kind-hearted and skilled physicians, so I felt I was in the best of hands.”
Kathleen had her heart valve replacement through a tiny incision in November 2013. Throughout her one-week stay in the hospital, Kathleen’s physicians and the Valve Center team checked on her frequently, making sure she was recovering well.
Kathleen made a speedy recovery and was back to work within a month. And three months later, she successfully completed a hike in New Hampshire, feeling well and with lots of stamina.