Mary learned she had mitral valve prolapse more than 30 years ago while living in Washington, D.C. “It was so mild at the time that I didn’t have to do anything about it,” she says.
By summer 2019, when she was living in New York City, her primary care doctor at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, Dr. Stuart Framm, noticed a heart murmur and ordered an echocardiogram, an ultrasound that details how the heart’s muscles and valves are working. “After taking that test, I learned my condition had worsened,” Mary says. At the same time, she began experiencing heart palpitations.
She went to see Dr. Rosner in the fall of 2019; he began monitoring her heart health closely and prescribed medication to reduce her palpitations. By June 2020, her symptoms had worsened, and included a rapid and irregular heartbeat and brief dizzy spells. After more tests, Dr. Rosner recommended surgery.
During her surgery in August, doctors discovered they needed to replace her valve rather than simply repair it, which, in addition to other complications, made her recovery more challenging. At one point, Mary temporarily required mechanical support to replace the function of her heart and lungs.
“All things considered, I’m doing really well now. I pulled out of it with the help of the great doctors at NewYork-Presbyterian,” she says.
“She’s so determined and amazing, and really recovered remarkably well after everything that happened,” says Dr. Rosner.
Mary lives with her dog, a pit bull/Boston terrier mix named Pepper, and appreciates how the device has not only made her feel safer, but also made her health care more convenient during her recovery. If she touches her chest, she can feel the device, which measures 2.5 by 2 inches. Otherwise she forgets it’s there, even though it continuously records and transmits her data so her doctors can check for arrhythmias and also monitor how the device is working.
It’s also made doctor-patient communications easier. Mary recalls discussing her vitals during a recent telehealth visit with Dr. Rosner. After living with a heart condition for so long, she knew what to report, but this time she was surprised at how easy her checkup was with the new device. “I had just done a blood pressure reading with a home cuff. And I said, ‘Do you need my pulse too?’ He said, ‘No, I have that right here in front of me because your device is sending it to me,’” says Mary.
“When Dr. Rosner first told me about the device, I thought, ‘Of course I should get this.’ And I’m very glad I did,” she adds. “It’s reassuring and a comfort to know I have this kind of fail-safe if something goes wrong.”