Fixing a Tight Valve

Article Date: Feb 4, 2011

At 87-years-old, Helen Hatcher is still her own boss and likes her own space. For awhile, she thought she could control a little problem she’d been having with her heart.

“I kept telling everybody, I’ll live until I die,” she says. “And I wasn’t letting the problem of the leaky valve bother me. I was just going ahead and doing what I wanted to do.”

But Helen’s leaky valve – or tight valve – wasn’t exactly a little problem. Ruby Satpathy, M.D., an interventional cardiologist with Alegent Health Clinic Heart & Vascular Specialists, explains that a normal valve has the diameter about the size of a quarter. Helen’s was like a pinhole – which means barely any blood was getting through.

Dr. Satpathy explained to Helen and her family that her only option was something called Valvuloplasty, during which they balloon the valve open without cracking the chest.

“This procedure, we go through the groin and go with a catheter across the valve to basically balloon the valve open,” explains Dr. Satpathy. “And so you’re causing more blood flow across this valve.”

The valve controls the flow of blood to and from the heart. Valvuloplasty is used on high-risk cardiac patients, like Helen, when medicine can’t control the problem and open heart surgery isn’t an option.

“She has had it for years,” says Dr. Satpathy. “And it just gets worse when you get older. She had seen many cardiologists, she just didn’t want to go through the surgery and surgery wasn’t a very good option for her. So she was turned down for surgery a few times, too. Between her and her family, they were at a point that they were thinking there were no more other options available.”

But after talking to Dr. Satpathy, Helen and her family were convinced they were in the right place – Bergan Mercy Medical Center and knew they’d found the right doctor.

“She explained everything and showed me exactly what she was going to do and explained everything,” says Helen. “Then I wasn’t afraid.”

Patients like Helen are usually home within a day or two of the procedure. There is a chance they may have to go back and have it done again. Sometimes the valve tightens back up. But now that Helen knows what to expect, she says she won’t put it off next time.

“I’ve always said I was going to live until I was 95,” says Helen. “So I got eight years, yet.”

And Helen believes she bought herself a little more time, thanks to the skilled hands of Dr. Ruby Satpathy.

Reader Comments
Posted: Feb 7 2011 5:09 PM CST by mike cleaver

Grandma I am so proud of you. Now we get to have that dance that you promised me. I can't wait for that. I love you. I am so happy that Grandma had such wonderful care then and also now. I have always known she would live well past 95!!!!!

Love you Grams

Cindy and Mike

Posted: Feb 12 2011 5:33 PM CST by Crystal David

You're an AMAZING woman!!! I am so proud to have you for a Grandma!!
95 are you kidding me? Way past that,our family is a bunch of fighters. Keep up the good work.
Love you tons,

Post a Comment
Comment Policy
Name *
Email Address *
Spam Check * I am:
An Individual
A Business
CHI Health Employee
A Spambot
3 + 1 =
Message *
This is a moderated comment section.
Your post will be displayed upon approval.
Recent Articles
Don’t Take This Bad News Sitting Down
Mar 31, 2015

Helping Patients Overcome Life’s Most Difficult Moments
Mar 25, 2015

We’re Helping Put an End to the Violence
Mar 24, 2015

Spring Allergies: You Really Don’t Have to Feel Crummy
Mar 24, 2015

Rare triplets born at CHI Health Bergan Mercy
Mar 20, 2015

Related Links
Ruby Satpathy, M.D.

Heart and Vascular Institute

Alegent Health Valve Clinic