73-year old Betty Heimforth from Bishop California says she doesn't fit the typical heart patient. ": I never thought of myself as having heart disease."
We caught up with Betty Hiemforth the day before the big surgery. She had to have several tests before doctors would FIX two heart valves. It's a problem that took several years to diagnose. Betty says that's because she always looked healthy.
" Until the time I convinced myself I was depressed lazy, I just didn't want to do anything, getting old." Dr. Todd Chapman, cardiovascular surgeon and chief of the heart program at Carson Tahoe says those symptoms describe a lot of heart valve patiens who want to look at other causes besides the real problem.. " Valvular disease is slow progressive thing this is why people say, oh I'm just getting old or fat and out of breath. She has two valves that leak not only does it leak back into the aortic valve it leaks clear around into the lung into the mitral valve."
In surgery Dr. Chapman will try to fix both valves. For about three hours Betty will be placed on a heart and lung machine. It will do the work for Betty. Her lungs can't expand and her heart needs to stop beating so Dr. Chapman can work on it.
The mitral valve has a slight opening Dr. Chapman will repair that with sutures and a dalkon ring enforcement. Betty's aortic valve will be replaced entirely...after cutting the old valves away, an artificial valve is put into place with the help of an intricate line of sutures. Dr. Chapman will wait for about ten minutes and slowly take Betty off the heart and lung machine. By using an echo cardiogram he'll look for valve leakage. With none is site, Betty's chest is closed
Betty says for women her age and even younger who just don't feel right and can't get answers, don't give up. " If you feel that way get some help somewhere. And insist on it."