Kevin Hey: My Diagnosis Story

Published On: 11 December 2015Categories: Minimally Invasive Surgery, Mitral Valve, Patient Stories

Kevin was treated for mitral valve disease in 2014, having been diagnosed 18 years prior! Here, in the first of three entries, he writes in detail about his experience of diagnosis and living with heart valve disease.

In 1996, I visited my GP with a recurrent chest infection. During the course of the physical examination, a heart murmur was detected, and an echocardiogram revealed that I had a leaking mitral valve. The leak was causing ‘trivial’ regurgitation of blood from the heart, and from that moment, I would be subject to annual examination. In fact, my leak was a superb example of the disease, and over the next 15 years countless trainee cardiologists were invited to listen to the characteristic ‘systolic click’ from my heart, along with viewing the images of my leaking valve on the echo-cardiograph. I was a medical marvel!

As the years went by, my leak progressed along the leakage scale from ‘trivial’ to ‘moderate’ and finally to ‘severe’. The deterioration in the working of the valve was mirrored by deterioration in my overall health. I experienced irregular heartbeats and increasing breathlessness becoming my faithful companions. By this stage, assessments had moved from annually to half-yearly, and finally every three months.

As the frequency of the assessments increased so too did the range of tests, including stress-tests on a treadmill, a nuclear perfusion scan, and finally an angiogram. Some of the tests are not a great way to spend a couple of hours, but all of them are bearable; and all of them were absolutely vital in aiding my diagnosis and treatment.

In January 2014, the day arrived when my cardiologist uttered the words that I knew were coming – the leak was now so severe that damage was being caused to my heart. Surgery was essential. My first reaction to hearing the news was to look around the consultant’s office for somewhere to hide. However, after talking through the procedure, I knew this was the right course of action.

Tim Powell: My Repair Story
Kevin Hey: My Treatment Options Story

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