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Heart valve and stent question???
Old 02-12-2011, 10:09 AM   #1
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Heart valve and stent question???

My friend called from Illinois to tell me that after she had 3 valves replaced to her heart around last October, she now has 2 of them clogged. I asked her what her Dr. said and he said, "It doesn't look good. They look (the valves) trashed up."
She said they had to put stents in two of these new valves last month.
.
Here is my question: She told me--and this always sounds shocking--that she "isn't going to live long" since she has this.
Since she's a nurse, I am assuming she knows what she is talking about.
Anyone know the seriousness of this?

No heart problems in her family, she's the right weight, non-smoker/very mild drinker and very, very active for a lady of 70, so this comes as a total surprise to all.
Her Dr. told her to start walking to build herself up. I know she was swimming 3X a week after she was healed from the valves being put in, but she said she guesses that wasn't enough now.

(As usual I have to ask cause I no nothing about medical stuff.)
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Old 02-12-2011, 10:57 AM   #2
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This sounds all mixed up -- I think your facts are confused.

Just a wild guess here, but I think you don't mean "valves."
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Old 02-13-2011, 10:23 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa View Post
This sounds all mixed up -- I think your facts are confused.

Just a wild guess here, but I think you don't mean "valves."


Interesting--and thanks Rich of Tampa!
Maybe they are called arteries? I know nothing about medicine and don't pretend to.
But I really am relaying what she told me.
Your answer makes me (again) question if her information was true or she was trying to get attention since I have suspected her occasionally of doing that.
No, I am telling you what she told me...despite calling them valves.

What is mixed up here? Or is what she is saying just b.s.? (See why I posted this now?)
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Old 02-13-2011, 12:49 PM   #4
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Interesting--and thanks Rich of Tampa!
Maybe they are called arteries? I know nothing about medicine and don't pretend to.
But I really am relaying what she told me.
Your answer makes me (again) question if her information was true or she was trying to get attention since I have suspected her occasionally of doing that.
No, I am telling you what she told me...despite calling them valves.

What is mixed up here? Or is what she is saying just b.s.? (See why I posted this now?)
Maybe she means coronary arteries?
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Old 02-13-2011, 02:07 PM   #5
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My friend called from Illinois to tell me that after she had 3 valves replaced to her heart around last October, she now has 2 of them clogged.

Anyone know the seriousness of this?
The heart has four valves. If two of them were clogged, your friend would probably be dead.

I think she must be referring to arteries. My guess is that she had a triple bypass (three arteries) and now two of the three bypasses are clogged. This does happen. They do put stents in arteries, but they wouldn't work very well in valves.

Beyond that, I won't opine, because I'm just a baby doctor and this is grownup stuff.
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Old 02-13-2011, 03:00 PM   #6
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Awww! you mean you look like this??

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Old 02-13-2011, 09:05 PM   #7
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The heart has four valves. If two of them were clogged, your friend would probably be dead.

I think she must be referring to arteries. My guess is that she had a triple bypass (three arteries) and now two of the three bypasses are clogged. This does happen. They do put stents in arteries, but they wouldn't work very well in valves.

Beyond that, I won't opine, because I'm just a baby doctor and this is grownup stuff.


My bad...you are correct: arteries. And she did have a triple bypass around October.
So, with stents being put in will does this really mean she will not live long like she said to me? Talk about hanging the phone up in shock...

(Forgive me calling arteries "valves." I am honest about knowing zip about medical things as you can tell.)
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Old 02-14-2011, 09:42 AM   #8
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Three stents is different from triple bypass. Stents are usually placed during cardiac catheterization. Bypass is done when an artery is clogged and the cardiovascular surgeon uses another vessel (veins from the leg or some mammary veins) to replace the clogged artery and provide arterial blood to the heart for sustenance. Yes, she could have stents placed in the bypass vessels. Bypass surgery is usually done "open-heart," although there are now less-invasive ways in which heart surgery can be done.

Some people have a genetic predisposition to 'laying down' plaque in their arterial vessels - which causes the vessels to 'block up.' Aerobic exercise is good, but one also needs a good diet. As for living long---well, if her vessels can't stay clear, then yes, she's got a higher probability of a heart attack (which means that oxygenated blood was unable to reach the pumping heart muscle and that part of the tissue 'dies.') And with a higher probability of having a heart attack she has a higher probability of dying from a cardiac-related incident. She could die tomorrow from getting run over, too.

Did her doctor put her on a cholesteral-restricted diet? Not that that would change any underlying genetic issues.....

I am not a doctor, but a biomedical engineer who has worked with cardiac professionals for years assessing, purchasing and implementing complex technologies for use by clinicians.
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Old 02-14-2011, 10:51 AM   #9
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Three stents is different from triple bypass. Stents are usually placed during cardiac catheterization. Bypass is done when an artery is clogged and the cardiovascular surgeon uses another vessel (veins from the leg or some mammary veins) to replace the clogged artery and provide arterial blood to the heart for sustenance. Yes, she could have stents placed in the bypass vessels. Bypass surgery is usually done "open-heart," although there are now less-invasive ways in which heart surgery can be done.

Some people have a genetic predisposition to 'laying down' plaque in their arterial vessels - which causes the vessels to 'block up.' Aerobic exercise is good, but one also needs a good diet. As for living long---well, if her vessels can't stay clear, then yes, she's got a higher probability of a heart attack (which means that oxygenated blood was unable to reach the pumping heart muscle and that part of the tissue 'dies.') And with a higher probability of having a heart attack she has a higher probability of dying from a cardiac-related incident. She could die tomorrow from getting run over, too.

Did her doctor put her on a cholesteral-restricted diet? Not that that would change any underlying genetic issues.....

I am not a doctor, but a biomedical engineer who has worked with cardiac professionals for years assessing, purchasing and implementing complex technologies for use by clinicians.
You explained it better than I could. Thanks .
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Old 02-14-2011, 11:31 AM   #10
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Yes, I have to say that I even got it...and that's something when you talk medical. Thanks, deserat!!!

Now it makes sense to me why the Dr. said for her to take up lots of walking. I guess the pool wasn't enough exercise--although having been with her in the pool--if she were honest she'd realize she only water jogs while chatting with others which doesn't work your upper body at all really. No wonder she has to now take up walking.

I guess she wasn't being dramatic at all...well, now I can really start to worry about her. All I could say the entire phone conversation with her was, "this is not good." And it sure isn't...lordy, how I hate this growing old stuff.......


Again, thank you for the understandable explanation, deserat!

And I'm not sure about her diet, but being a nurse she probably talked to him about it. She seemed to eat pretty healthy to me sans junk from what I could see when we drove from Illinois to Phoenix and back together to look at houses and from eating out with her and at each other's houses. And she certainly isn't overweight (5'4" or so, size 10 I'd say).

Gosh, I'm the one that's overweight right now. You'd think it would be me...but my heart is fine according to a May checkup with 2 Drs. listening to it (other than a mild mitral valve problem I can't worry about cause I can't do anything about it). You would think it would be me...but life isn't always fair is it?

I feel really badly about this........
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Old 02-14-2011, 12:08 PM   #11
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There's a lot of medical research on stents that don't clog as quickly ("drug-eluting") and stents that are smaller and not prone to clogging.

Local firm Innovasc makes two products in the "smaller" category called "The Tack" and "The Spike". (Sennet Capital : Transactions) They're working well in clinical trials but they're not in production yet.
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Old 02-14-2011, 02:00 PM   #12
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I'm so sorry to read about your friend Orchid. Apart from refraining from the hot chocolate sundaes in her presence, the best thing you can do for her is treat her normally, and to be there for her should she need you.
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Old 02-15-2011, 04:43 PM   #13
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The woman is super active and just turned 70. She drove me all by herself (I paid for everything) to Phoenix and back during the 9 days we took off from Illinois to Arizona. We had a nice time, too.
This is not a lazy woman at all, since her husband (and may I quote) "can't do anything" when it comes to household repairs, so she has always done everything in that 52 year marriage from raising the kids to floating and laying wood floors last year. I mean everything....it's just sad...and unfair. Life can be a pisser can't it?
However, he's in great shape.

My gosh...this old age stuff is hearing about one friend or another getting really sick or dying. This is not fun at all.
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Old 02-16-2011, 12:19 AM   #14
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Well, if she has that genetic pre-disposition towards clogging her arteries, she is fortunate to be living at this time because they can do stents and bypasses. As for activity, based on what you've said she's had a life with many different experiences, so she's taken advantage of what time she does have alive. This sort of goes to the nature/nurture question: you have a range of time/options programmed genetically into you - using the nurture/time part to work towards ensuring your personal time is on the tails of the range is what you control. For example, as I understand it, Jim Fixx, the man whose leg is shown on the book Running died of a heart attack at a young age - people say it was sad, but from his physiological/genetic perspective, the fact that he ran and kept himself in as best cardiovascular shape as possible ensured that he lived longer than he otherwise would have without being cardiovascularly fit.

Some of the threads on diet and cholesterol are in the end about how one can maximize the time they have genetically through what they consume and/or the types of exercise they do (there are many types - Paleo is one of the more extreme, another more extreme one is the extreme low calorio diet).

Sorry to veer off - I guess I was trying to say that she has probably already lived a long life based on what her 'genetic' clock has. Also, she has taken advantage of what time she has had as well as technology to make sure she extends her time. It may be sad in comparison to another person who has better genetic odds, but not necessarily sad in comparison to someone who has similar genetic odds.

Alan's advice regarding the emotional side/support of this is spot on.
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Old 02-16-2011, 11:49 PM   #15
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70 seems awfully young to me to have this sort of thing hanging over your head, but that is from my perspective and probably not the norm since both my parents lived a long time (90 and 91); and both died of old age, lucky for them.
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Old 02-17-2011, 04:24 PM   #16
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70 seems awfully young to me to have this sort of thing hanging over your head, but that is from my perspective and probably not the norm since both my parents lived a long time (90 and 91); and both died of old age, lucky for them.
I don't want to hijack the thread but did you know that no one in the USA has died from old age in the USA since 1951?

This knowledge comes from a Car Talk puzzler some years back, not from any medical knowledge. Bye bye Bertha

I do agree that 70 does seem to be very young these days.
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Old 02-17-2011, 06:26 PM   #17
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Sounds like you are right Meadbh. Arteries make a lot more sense here. I am not a baby doctor, so I won't opine either

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I think she must be referring to arteries.
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Old 02-17-2011, 07:09 PM   #18
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Orchid, I'm sorry to hear about your friends heart problems. I hope she is able to do well and get on with enjoying life.

Evidently there is a heart valve that can be done via a valve containing stent and several have been done locally according to this news item.
University hospital fixing hearts without open-heart surgery | KATU.com - Portland News, Sports, Traffic Weather and Breaking News - Portland, Oregon - Portland, Oregon | Health
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Old 02-17-2011, 07:45 PM   #19
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I don't want to hijack the thread but did you know that no one in the USA has died from old age in the USA since 1951?

This knowledge comes from a Car Talk puzzler some years back, not from any medical knowledge. Bye bye Bertha

I do agree that 70 does seem to be very young these days.

Yeah, they put down COPD and something else on my mother's death certificate, but I saw her literally decaying over the 6 years +/- I was there. It was amazing since I never experienced that before, but your body just seems to decay (no nicer way to say it): the teeth go; the hearing gets worse; the brain gets worse; you can't coordinate your limbs like normal; etc. This is what we have to look forward to...whoopie?
To me, she died just like we all should...she just got too darned old for her body to function anymore...altho she was walking up to the last 3 days and talking coherently, too.

As for my friend with the heart problem, she is just scared. You can hear it in her voice. I think all this has been a shock to her, since she thought her inability to breathe at night when she was lying down was due to her lungs being ruined from her parent's smoking and not heart problems. And she's a nurse...what can I say?
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