The Challenge: Shortness of Breath
As an active member of her church and grandmother of four, Birdie Dally is used to keeping busy.
One day, Birdie noticed that she was having problems breathing while singing at church. When the problems persisted, she decided to see her doctor.
Birdie’s primary care doctor noticed a problem with her heart during routine testing and suggested she see a specialist.
The Path to UPMC's Heart and Vascular Institute
In the fall of 2012, Birdie saw Robin Girdhar, MD, a cardiologist at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute at the recommendation of her daughter. Dr. Girdhar treated Birdie's daughter for a minor heart condition.
After a heart catheterization and stress test, she was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse.
“When I was first diagnosed, I had no idea what it meant, but I knew that something needed to be done and I better not put it off,” Birdie says.
After a follow up with Dr. Girdhar in June 2013, he referred Birdie to a heart surgeon at the Heart and Vascular Institute. Her fatigue and shortness of breath were indications that her valve was leaking and there was cause for concern.
When the mitral valve prolapses and leaks, blood flows backwards into the heart and weakens it. Over time, this can lead to heart failure.
Birdie's surgeon recommended minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery to repair her damaged valve.
The Solution: Robotic-assisted Valve Repair Surgery
In August 2013, Birdie underwent minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery for valve repair.
Her sister previously had open heart surgery. That experience prepared her for her own surgery.
“I didn’t go through a lot of anxiety or concern. Sometimes you get knocked down, but you get back up. The doctors were so caring and compassionate; I knew I was receiving top-notch care,” says Birdie.
Birdie returned home within a week of her surgery and was back to most normal activities within six weeks.
She encourages others who might have mitral valve prolapse to not ignore their symptoms and follow up with their doctor before their condition worsens.
“Since my surgery, my life is pretty much back to normal. I’m able to sing better at church, take care of my house, and play basketball with my grandchildren,” she says.
Birdie's treatment and results may not be representative of similar cases.
Learn More About Heart Conditions and Treatments
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