Heart and Vascular Care
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Heart surgery was a long time coming for Lisa LePage.
After a brush with cancer as a young adult, Lisa was left with long-lasting heart issues. Her symptoms were minor at first but began to worsen over the years. Eventually, she found herself unable to enjoy the places and people she loves most.
Relief came years later, but only after forced isolation and a lengthy wait.
A teenager’s diagnosis leads to life-long symptoms
Lisa was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma after doctors discovered a tumor in her chest. She was 19 years old.
She underwent radiation and chemotherapy that left her heart scarred. For the next 10 years, she suffered through mild chest pain, infrequent shortness of breath, and an elevated heart rate.
These symptoms were too minor for surgery, but they kept her from living her life to the fullest.
Normal life impacted by her condition
Lisa was diagnosed with aortic valve stenosis. In the beginning, her symptoms were minor and infrequent. At the grocery store, she would run out of breath or feel occasional chest pain. But eventually, those symptoms worsened, affecting her day-to-day living.
Her health kept her from the everyday activities she wanted to do.
“My symptoms seemed to accelerate there in the last few years. They started causing me trouble on a daily basis,” Lisa says.
Lisa found it difficult to live her life the way she used to. When in public, she worried her shortness of breath would be too great, and she would need to leave early. She also experienced fatigue and found it difficult to find energy for everyday tasks.
She felt restricted from the life she wanted.
Lisa had the same cardiologist for much of that decade of battling symptoms. Dr. Ceferino Cata worked with her to monitor her symptoms and make sure Lisa was in the best possible health. However, as her symptoms progressed, Dr. Cata brought in Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Thomas Merle to assist.
In January 2020, Lisa’s symptoms worsened. Her cardiologists began discussing surgery options. But her heart was compensating for the poorly functioning valve. Her doctors thought she would eventually need surgery, but her condition did not call for extreme measures yet.
Then, a new virus—SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19—made its way to the U.S.
Surgery would need to wait.
A serious delay in treatment
The threat of COVID-19 meant Lisa needed to stay home. Her doctors stressed that if she contracted the virus, she would likely experience a serious—instead of minor—case. She could have ended up in the hospital and may have needed a ventilator.
She needed to stay home and mask up.
“I stayed pretty isolated. Of course, that was a trial. I’m a people person, so it was difficult to stay isolated,” Lisa says.
That January, Lisa returned to her cardiologists for a re-evaluation. They determined her depleted heart health required immediate care and recommended the transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure to replace her aortic valve.
Finally seeing relief
Lisa’s health immediately improved after the TAVR procedure.
Dr. Brian Schwartz assisted Dr. Merle during the procedure at Kettering Medical Center. The surgery helped to reduce Lisa’s symptoms and improve her overall health, bringing back her ability to enjoy her life.
Since then, Lisa says she’s a lot less fatigued and that she’s sleeping better than she has in years.
Since her procedure— and her second vaccine— Lisa jumped back into counseling with her church, Clearkcreek Chapel, and enjoying time with her family and friends.
Her health no longer keeps her from the people she loves. Her life before was interrupted by her symptoms, but now, she enjoys everyday activities without worry of feeling sick.
“I’ve been able to walk around without having to worry if I’m out of breath or have chest pain. Then being able to be with people without risk,” Lisa says. “Last week, I went to my first restaurant since the fall of last year. It’s been very nice to try and resume normal activities.
“I am blessed, and very grateful for the excellent care I have received from the doctors and staff at Kettering Medical Center.”
If you’re concerned with your heart health, take our heart risk quiz to see if you should talk to your doctor.