It's not what makes your heart go pitter patter that worries cardiologists. It's how loud that pitter patter is. We are talking about heart murmurs. You know how you can hear the water running through the pipes in your house? In theory that's similar to how heart murmurs are detected.
Doctors listen to the sound your blood makes when it's flowing through your heart. If you have a murmur it's louder, much like a narrowed pipe in your home, you'd hear squishing. Jason Askew had squishing. He tells us about his mitral valve prolapse in this Avera Medical Minute.
The 35 year old from Sioux Falls is a pretty fit guy. He admits he should probably run even more than he does, but the sheer fact he is running at all is pretty amazing. Jason had open heart surgery at the end of may, a couple months later he was back to business and running 3 miles a day several days a week. He says he had no idea anything was even wrong with him. He works at the Avera Sports Institute and tries to stay in shape so when his doctor at McGreevy Clinic said he needed to see a cardiologist he was shocked.
Jason says, " I didn't have any signs, any symptoms, I didn't feel bad. I just went in to get allergy medicine and found out something was wrong with my heart." That something was a heart murmur.
Cardiologist Dr. Michael Hibbard with the North Central Heart Institute says almost everyone has one... like headaches... but not all headaches are brain tumors and not all murmurs are deadly, but Jason's was serious.
Dr. Hibbard says, "He had a mitral valve prolapse. What people don't think about is the heart beats somewhere in the vicinity of a 100,000 times a day. Some of the little tendons that hold the valve in place were under an excessive amount of stress because of that condition. All of a sudden one of those ruptures and when it ruptured, the best way to think about it is like a parachute with all the cords but someone clipped a couple of cords and the air was leaking out the side. The same thing happened with the blood leaking backwards through the valve making the heart work twice as hard pumping blood both ways."
They caught Jason's leaky valve early, but if they hadn't he says doctors tell him he probably would have had a heart attack in 2 to 3 years. They repaired it using a mitral valve ring. It's a fairly new procedure and Dr. Hibbard says preferred because it doesn't use artificial valve to replace the ruptured area.
Jason says he hates to say it but his recovery was pretty easy. He says, "Because of my age I didn't go into surgery with any cardiac damage so that was the biggest thing." He only took two and a half weeks off of work but couldn't drive for 6 weeks. He said, "Honestly, that was the hardest part for me."
If you have questions call 877-AT-AVERA or go to www.averamckennan.org