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Surprising News From Cardiologist

In my follow-up today with my cardiologist, he gave me surprising news. I have mild to moderate regurgitation in my replacement heart valve, as measured in an echocardiogram. It’s not the valve itself that’s leaking, it’s around the edges where the lining was sewn to the aortic wall. My doc says this sometimes happens shortly after surgery but is unusual this late (5 years+ post-op). He wants me to get a bacterial culture to make sure I don’t have any infection, which can damage the valve or surrounding tissue. Because of the possibility of such infection, I’ve had to take antibiotics as a precaution whenever I have any kind of procedure done, including dental cleaning. He asked if I had any recent known infections and I mentioned my UTI last fall. It’s possible some of those bacteria made it to the heart and did some damage.

Replacement valve. The three yellow segments are the valve leaflets which meet in a “Y” at the top. They are working fine.

It’s probably OK as long as there aren’t any active bad bacteria running around in me now, and nothing else happens to make it progress. I’m asymptomatic and my heart sounds fine with a stethoscope so I’m not worried. If worse comes to worst I’d have to get it fixed, which would be a much less invasive surgery than last time.

We’ll do the bacterial tests and then follow up in a couple of months to see what’s next.

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