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Deidra's Story: Heart Valve Disease

Deidra Jacobs, her cardiologist, Hani Seifein MD, FACC, and her surgeon, Kevin Accola, MD, FACC, successfully manage her mitral valve prolapse through surgery.

A surgical procedure was necessary—valve replacement surgery. Heart surgeons either replace the valve or, if possible, repair the existing valve, which was the best option for Deidra.

Time to take a quick break. Then it’s back to the plastic tube that mom has to squeeze through, and the slide, and everything this playground has to offer. It’s a perfect afternoon for Deidra Jacobs and her eight-year-old daughter Shania.

Deidra: “I think the biggest thing for me is just that I can actually run behind her, play, and not have to worry about feeling like I’m faint or feeling like I’m at a loss of breath.”

Deidra was born with a condition called mitral valve prolapse. Deidra learned early on she had a common heart problem that kept her heart valve from closing properly.

Dr. Hani Seifein at Florida Hospital is Deidra’s cardiologist.

Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is one of the most common cardiac valve abnormalities. It is more common in women and appears to have a strong hereditary component. A large majority of patients with MVP are asymptomatic and have excellent prognosis. Some may have symptoms of fatigue, palpitations or chest pain. In some patients, valve malfunction may develop causing the blood to back up across the valve. In extreme cases this may lead to symptoms of congestive heart failure with progressive shortness of breath and easy fatigue, as in the case of Deidra who noticed that her symptoms were getting worse.

Deidra: “I had some shortness of breath. I was getting tired earlier--going to bed earlier than normal--and I’m thinking here I am in my teens and twenties; I should actually be enjoying life and not have to worry about being in bed or fatigued by 8:30 or nine at night, but it just started to get worse. I would come home from work and I would just crash.”

A test called echocardiography plays a key role in the diagnosis of MVP. A surgical procedure was necessary—valve replacement surgery. Heart surgeons either replace the valve or, if possible, repair the existing valve, which was the best option for Deidra.

Deidra’s cardiologist recommended Florida Hospital heart surgeon Dr. Kevin Accola.

Dr. Accola: “When I first saw Deidra in the office and we talked about potential risks, benefits and options, I felt we had a very good opportunity or chance to repair her valve.”

Deidra: “Just knowing that my cardiologist spoke with him and told him the story meant I didn’t have to repeat myself so my comfort level was already good. Now the surgeon and I actually have an opportunity to get to know one another---he knows my needs.”

It’s several weeks after Deidra’s surgery, a decision made as a team including Dr. Accola, Deidra and her cardiologist.

Dr. Accola: “It’s always a collaborative effort, with the idea in mind that we put our heads together and collectively decide or determine what’s best for that particular patient.”

This, Deidra knows, is best for her and her daughter. The chance to feel like a kid again with Shania.

Deidra: “I know now when I come home I’m not going to bed, I’m not feeling tired. I can sit out with my daughter and we can have a nice day outside and we can play. We can ride bikes together. It’s just an important time for me. Now I can live day by day and know that I can enjoy that opportunity with her that I did not have the last four or five years.”

I was getting tired earlier and I’m thinking, "Here I am in my teens and twenties, I should actually be enjoying life."

Deidra Jacobs: Heart Valve Disease Patient

Related

Mitral Valve Prolapse

Echocardiography

This video tells you everything you need to know about having an echocardiogram.

Heart Valve Replacement Surgery