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Thursday, 27 March 2014
My Wife's Bovine Pericardial Aortic Valve has only lasted 8 years!
On the morning of Friday 14th March
2014 I had to call the Emergency Ambulance Service because my wife,
Natalie, had a seizure at home.
The day started as normal without any
warning of what was to come.
On returning home from the weekly trip
to the local Sainsburys supermarket we put the shopping away and
relaxed whilst we drank our mid-morning mug of milky coffee. After
our drink we went upstairs to put a few toiletries away.
We were in the bedroom when Natalie
said: “I feel dizzy, I think I'll sit on the bed for a minute.”
As I turned to leave the room suddenly she suffered what seemed to be
Her body went rigid; her back arched;
her head tilted back; her mouth opened; her arms went stiff,
stretched out at a forty-five degrees angle to her body; her eyes
went blank and staring; she was moaning; she was having difficulty
breathing; she was unresponsive. In a controlled panic I called 999.
She was quickly connected to an ECG(Electrocardiogram) machine to monitor her heart rhythm. Although the
reading showed a regular heart beat the medics decided she needed to
be taken to the Accident and Emergency department of Lincoln CountyHospital for further tests. Following her admission she had more ECG
s, a blood test, an X-ray, and a CT (Computerised Tomography) scan
of her head, in case she had suffered a stroke or fit with possible
damage to her brain. The result of the scan was clear.
The Doctor decided that as the cause of
the seizure was not apparent, and because he could also hear a loud
heart murmur, Natalie was admitted to the MEAU (Medical Emergency
Assessment Unit) ward for further observation and tests.
The following morning (Saturday) the
duty Consultant visited Natalie and reviewed the various test results
available. He was of the opinion that the seizure type incident was
probably an extreme reaction to a faint due to an insufficient flow
of blood and oxygen to the brain. He was concerned about the loud
murmur coming from her prosthetic aortic valve and therefore ordered
an Echocardiogram (An ultrasound scan used to obtain a detailed image
of the heart). This can often detect abnormalities with the shape and
movement of the heart's valves.
The test was carried out on Sunday
morning using a portable, therefore limited, machine as this was the
quickest option. The preliminary results indicated that the valve is
not opening correctly. A further test was requested on the main, more
sophisticated, larger ECG machine so as to get better indications as
to what is happening with the valve.
Natalie was transferred from the MEAU
to a surgical ward at 22:00 hrs. on Sunday night.
The 'Echo' test was repeated on Tuesday
morning. It confirmed that the artificial valve is not functioning
correctly. It is not fully opening so the blood flow from the
ventricle into the aorta artery is restricted. There was also concern
that there could be some back-flow of blood into the heart chamber.
The Cardiologist, looking after
Natalie, wanted her transferred to the Cardiac Unit ward as soon as
possible, to make it easier to monitor her condition. She was moved
on Wednesday evening.
She was informed that it was necessary
for a Coronary Angiogram (a type of X-ray that uses a special dye
which helps the blood vessels of the heart show up clearly on an
X-ray scan) to be carried out to ascertain the overall condition of
her heart and arteries. The procedure was carried out during the
morning of Friday 21st March, a week after her admission into
The results confirmed our worst fears.
The Bovine Pericardial Aortic Valve (the Perimount Magna 3000 model, manufactured by Carpentier-Edwards), fitted in January 2006, has
failed. It is suspected to be due to SVD (Structural Valve
Deterioration). This could be as a result of calcification of the
three leaves of the valve, or a tear in one of them.
She is suffering with severe aortic-stenosis
(the valve opening is narrowed and obstructing a normal blood-flow
through it) and severe aortic-regurgitation (the valve is leaking and a
substantial quantity of blood is flowing back through it into the
left ventricle) as the valve is neither opening or closing properly.
The only remedial treatment is open
heart surgery to replace the faulty prosthesis. A repeat of the
operation Natalie went through just eight years ago.
The Consultant Cardiologist in Lincoln
has sent a priority request to the Trent Cardiac Centre at Nottingham
City Hospital for an operation. A report has been sent to the Cardiac
Surgeon who carried out the first replacement operation. There is
some surprise and concern as to the short period of time of the
effective working of the current bovine-valve. The advice we were
given in January 2006 was that we could anticipate a longevity of the
bioprothesis of fifteen years, possibly more.
What of the
Natalie is to remain in hospital until
the essential operation is undertaken because the severity of the
valve malfunction requires constant monitoring of her heart's status.
When will the surgery take place?
Not only does she have the fear of the
outcome of another operation but she also has the worry as to which
type of valve to have fitted this time. Should she choose a
mechanical valve or another stented bioprothesis? Will she have a
choice or will the decision be made by the surgeon based on the
condition of the aortic root connection to her heart, as this will be the second Aortic valve replacement?