Carolyn Peterson has a sunny disposition and is not one to complain. “I take what I get and make the best of it,” she said.
She never complained about her heart murmur, either. “I’ve had it all my life and never thought anything of it,” Peterson said. An unexpected surgery in November of 2011 brought the heart murmur to the forefront. “When I was in the hospital having my gall bladder removed, they kept mentioning the murmur and said I needed to get it checked.”
The source of Peterson’s heart murmur was a faulty heart valve. She felt fine and was relatively symptomless before the surgery; however, without repair, her condition would have continued to get worse.
Peterson was referred to Interventional Cardiologist Maged Rizk, M.D., Ph.D. Over the next few years, he kept a close eye on the now 82-year-old. He saw her regularly and had imaging done periodically. “Dr. Rizk stayed on top of it so well,” she said. “He told me it was getting tighter and tighter. He kept close track of me and then one day he said it was time to do something.”
Replacing a valve usually requires open heart surgery. For some patients, a new, less invasive procedure known as transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is available at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland.
TAVR involves inserting an artificial aortic valve through an artery in the neck, leg or between the ribs, and placing it inside the patient’s diseased heart valve while the heart is still beating.
Because the procedure is minimally invasive, patients usually heal more quickly. On the other hand, TAVR is not appropriate for everyone. It is a more complex surgery, carries its own set of risks and requires the involvement of a multi-disciplinary team of specialists representing the areas of interventional cardiology, advanced cardiac imaging and cardiovascular surgery.
Because she qualified for the alternative procedure, Dr. Rizk asked Peterson to think about having TAVR instead of traditional open heart surgery. Peterson had total faith in her doctor and trusted his judgement. “He was so good to explain everything to me and my family and I had no qualms about it at all,” he said.
Her faith gives her strength. “I believe you say your prayers and turn it over to God,” Peterson said. She also had confidence in the experience and skill of the team of doctors who performed the procedure.
Her confidence was well placed. Peterson had the TAVR procedure on July 18. “Before the operation, Dr. Rizk went over everything again for me, my family and even our minister who was there,” she said.
“It went very well,” Peterson added. “I went home after three days. After a week, Dr. Rizk said I had no restrictions.” She had no issues while recovering and was able to quickly return to her normal schedule.
Months later, Peterson feels great and has more energy. She also feels different in a positive way that she finds hard to describe. She is happy to have the valve replacement procedure behind her. “I’m glad I went ahead with what Dr. Rizk suggested,” she said.
“I think the world of Dr. Rizk and I’d recommend him to anybody,” Peterson said. “I like his bedside manner, he explains everything really well and I know he cares,” she said. “I don’t think I could ever find a better doctor.”
MidMichigan Health offers a full array of heart and vascular services, including open heart surgery, advanced vascular surgery, electrophysiology for heart rhythm problems and advanced interventional procedures. Those who would like additional information on MidMichigan’s comprehensive cardiovascular team may visit www.midmichigan.org/heart.