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Leading an active lifestyle post-operation

Background:

A keen runner, Peter led an incredibly active and athletic lifestyle, exercising every day to a consistently high level, however for several years Peter had suffered with a mitral valve condition. While medical professionals consistently monitored his ‘leaky valve’, it did not impact his lifestyle in regards to his fitness.

Unexpectedly, Peter’s wife suffered from a stroke. As she was not in a high-risk category, Peter’s wife was referred to Professor Philip MacCarthy, Consultant Cardiologist at London Bridge Hospital to assess what could have caused the stroke. Examination found that Peter’s wife had a hole in her heart, where a small blood clot could be seen moving across the heart and up to the brain, which resulted in a stroke. Around the same time, Peter had begun to experience dizzy spells himself. His GP suggested he visited a cardiologist to check whether his valve problems were responsible for the symptoms, but having met with Professor MacCarthy through his wife, Peter chose to go to London Bridge Hospital to carry out some tests.

Consultation at London Bridge Hospital:

Upon referral, Consultant Clinical Scientist Professor Mark Monaghan carried out an echocardiogram on Peter and found that the mitral valve condition had worsened considerably since it was last checked, an evidence of heart disease in his arteries. Peter got his arteries checked with an angiogram and this confirmed that one artery was 80% blocked – Peter was incredibly surprised as he was still very fit and running every day at good pace without any symptoms of heart problems.

Upon these findings, Professor MacCarthy referred Peter to Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon Mr Ranjit Deshpande – a specialist in mitral valve repair, a procedure with longer-term survival rates than valve replacement. Mr Deshpande carried out the repair on Peter’s valve, in addition to a heart bypass to help him address his severely blocked artery.

Operation:

The operation was a success but during recovery from the surgery, Peter experienced a condition known as heart block, often a side effect for those who have undergone open heart surgery. A heart block is where the electrical pulses which control the beating of the heart are disrupted leading to a lack of communication between the top and bottom parts of the heart. Peter also had an irregular heartbeat, or ‘atrial fibrillation and flutters’. This was assessed by Consultant Cardiologist Dr Nicholas Gall, who recommended Peter to be fitted with a pacemaker that could control his heartbeat, ensuring its rhythm remained at a normal rate. Peter’s pacemaker included dual chamber controls to overcome the ‘heart block’ and control the atrial flutters he was experiencing.

Peter was referred to the Pacemaker and Defibrillator Clinic at London Bridge Hospital where he was looked after by Cardiac Physiologist Ian Kirkpatrick and his exceptional team. They are responsible for ensuring all pacemakers and defibrillators fitted work correctly via initial post implantation monitoring and annual check ups.

Getting back to physical fitness:

Whilst Peter’s pacemaker operated well during a normal resting state, Peter was eager to get back to his former physical fitness and began exercising again. His pacemaker struggled to regulate his heart rate and it would shoot up with no intermediate reading whenever he ran. Peter’s fitness requirements posed a challenge for the pacemaker and defibrillator team, which they were committed to solve. Using a variety of treadmill tests Mr Kirkpatrick and his team were able to help Peter resume his former athletic life again.Despite further ablation surgery, Peter continued to experience atrial fibrillation but his pacemaker ensured these posed no risk and no symptoms as a result. He is now back to being incredibly active, albeit his fitness is not as high as he would like it to be, but he is determined to continue improving on his athletics training every day – something that may had never been possible without the work of the team at London Bridge Hospital.

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