Patient Success Story: Bryan's Story

August 28, 2020

When I was a teenager, my family doctor noticed an irregular heartbeat and referred me to a cardiologist. The cardiologist determined that I had Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP), a condition I was born with. I didn’t have to see a cardiologist again after this initial assessment, there was no specific monitoring, and having MVP impacted my life very little.

That was until 2014 when I was diagnosed with infected endocarditis, a rare and highly lethal bacterial infection of a heart valve. However, I had been initially misdiagnosed four times over the course of several days and watched my health rapidly deteriorate. My wife, who is a doctor, believed it was important to evaluate how having MVP was playing a role in my declining health. I finally received the proper diagnosis after my wife advocated for an echocardiogram of my heart, but by that time I was in full heart failure, which caused me to slip into a coma. I was put on life support and hospitalized for many weeks. I never had experienced any symptoms or issues related to MVP prior to this infection – it had been completely benign.

I waited for one full year before I had a highly successful heart valve repair surgery and waiting for this procedure was a difficult and trying experience. Every few months I would get an MRI, which always came back inconclusive about the state of my heart valve. My surgeon was unsure if a repair could be performed or if a full valve replacement was necessary. I was in ‘wait and see’ mode as I hoped for a conclusive MRI. My mitral valve was badly damaged from my infection and this resulted in regurgitation, which put me at risk for heart failure or arrhythmia. During this year-long waiting period, I had constant risk and a big decision weighing on me: I could have heart valve replacement surgery and face the potential complications, or I could continue to wait and see if a repair was possible but at the risk of heart failure.

Heart valve repair eventually became a viable option and the treatment option I pursued. I had a quick recovery and was only in the hospital for a couple of days after open heart surgery. It took many weeks for my chest to fully heal, but I was back at work about seven weeks post-operation. I have also continued my previously active lifestyle after my surgery and, though my cardiologist recommended that I don’t run a marathon like I had always planned to do, I continue to exercise, golf, curl, and participate in many of the activities I used to.

I had a lot of time to reflect while I was in the ICU and the hospital. From that, the one thing I want to tell other people and encourage them to change is to stop delaying. Stop putting off that important thing that you’ve been meaning to do – start that business, write that book, make up with that friend or relative, run that marathon. None of us know what tomorrow will bring.

I got lucky in the sense that I had this near-death experience that created an awakening. I got a second chance and most people never get that opportunity. I want to use that second chance to share my experience so that other people may not have to go through the same thing that I did. Advocate for your health, take it seriously, and don’t wait until it’s too late.

Subscribe to receive the latest updates.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.