“We’re on top of our heart health!”
Who knows better how to thrive with heart valve disease than the folks who have it? Here, Jim and Mark share their tips for getting through treatment—and back to feeling great!
“Keep one step ahead!”
Keep medicine supplies handy! Having blood-thinning medication always at hand is critical for patients who have a mechanical valve. “The big complication is stroke risk,” explains Jim Novak, MD, a retired primary care physician in San Diego who had open-heart surgery in 2001 to replace his aortic and mitral valves. “I have two weeks of pill containers so I don’t lose track. If you find you’re one off, you’re uh-oh!”
Stay active—and safe! “I make it a point to stay physically active,” says Jim. “But because I take a blood-thinning medication, I won’t ice skate any more or ride horses [because of bleeding risk]. And when I ski, I wear a helmet.”
“Believe in the best outcome!”
Fight for the treatment you need! “TAVR literally saved my life,” says D. Mark Moore, DBA, associate professor and Chairman of the Business Department at York College in York, NE. Yet his insurance company initially denied coverage for the procedure. “They didn’t know about TAVR, so they denied my claim!” But instead of giving up, he turned to a team of advocates. Says Mark, “The people at the hospital [Mid America Heart Institute, in Kansas City, MO] worked tirelessly to straighten things out,” and the procedure went off without a hitch. Two weeks later, he boarded a flight for a long-planned family trip to France!
Build your strength—under supervision! Three days a week, Mark goes to cardiac rehab, where he builds up his strength and endurance on cardio machines such as the treadmill, elliptical machine and exercise bike, as well as lifts a few light weights. “They take my blood pressure and monitor my heart while I’m exercising.” Any fear about working out disappears with healthcare professionals at his side.