Sandra Woodfield’s Story

Published On: 9 June 2016Categories: Open Heart Surgery, Patient Stories

Sandra initially dismissed her symptoms of heart valve disease as a sign she was getting older. After falling ill at work, she visited her GP and upon further investigation was told she had heart valve disease. She explains her valve disease symptoms and diagnosis below.

I had been experiencing chest pains when out walking for about six months. My children kept telling me to get it checked out, but I just told them it was a sign I was getting older and I was fine. I frequently used to get breathless and light headed if I walked too quickly but these symptoms stopped if I paused and rested, so didn’t think much of it.

I was working as a teaching assistant and some days felt so tired, I could have curled up in the book corner and gone to sleep! Everything was such an effort and I felt I couldn’t keep up with the work but again just put this down to my age and struggled on. One day, I felt so rough my colleagues sent me home. The next day I managed to get an emergency appointment with the doctor. He listened to my chest, then asked me if I knew that I had a heart murmur. I had been made aware of it when I was pregnant with my first child 34 years ago but no one had mentioned it since. I asked if the chest pain and breathlessness I had been feeling had anything to do with the murmur. At that point, my doctor brought another doctor in to listen to my chest as well. I was then told I was being fast tracked to the cardiac unit at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon. I was also told I had a severe chest infection, signed off of work for two weeks and prescribed antibiotics as well.

I attended the cardiac unit where they gave me an ECG, weighed me and measured my height. I then saw a nurse who asked lots of questions and examined me. She then told me that my ECG reading was abnormal and I would need further tests to see what was happening. My first test was an angiogram and then six days later I had another ECG done. Again I was asked lots of questions about my symptoms and how they had been worsening over the last six months. After the tests, I was told one of my heart valveswas not working properly and that I would need open heart surgery to replace the valve.

My name was added to the list to see a heart surgeon, and I was sent home with the instructions to rest as much as possible. I now realise this was to make sure I didn’t strain my heart. Now I had my diagnosis, it was a case of awaiting my appointment with the cardiac surgeon who was to perform my open heart surgery. This took place at the end of February 2016, and so far I am recovering well. I look forward to updating you with my post-surgery progress soon!

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