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Denis Meighen: Mitral Regurgitation

HVI patient Denis Meighen | MitraClip Device Patient Story

The Challenge: Severe Shortness of Breath

Each winter, Denis and Nancy Meighen of Washington, Pa. spend a few weeks in Myrtle Beach.

In 2014 — toward the end of their stay — Denis had sudden, severe shortness of breath.

A retired heavy equipment operator, Denis is no stranger to heart trouble.

In 2004, he had open heart bypass surgery and has lived with atrial fibrillation — the most common abnormal heart rhythm disease — for many years.

Around the time of his bypass, Denis also learned about a problem with his mitral valve. He knew that a surgeon would need to fix it eventually.

The Path to UPMC's Center for Mitral Valve Disease

When he and Nancy returned home from Myrtle Beach, Denis had tests that showed severe mitral regurgitation and congestive heart failure.

Mitral regurgitation happens when the mitral valve’s flaps do not close properly. This causes blood to leak backward instead of flowing forward through the heart. Over time, this can lead to congestive heart failure.

Denis had gotten care at UPMC in the past, including cancer treatment in 2001.

After his mitral regurgitation diagnosis, Denis and Nancy researched options for treatment and found the UPMC Center for Mitral Valve Disease.

Before they made their decision, the Meighens also asked Denis’s cardiologist where he would go for treatment. He said UPMC.

The Solution: Minimally Invasive Surgery and the MitraClip® Device

Many people with mitral regurgitation have open heart surgery, but Denis’s history made him too high risk.

Denis' doctors, including A.J. Conrad Smith, MD, an interventional cardiologist and co-director of the center, believed there was another option for him.

The doctors talked with Denis about minimally invasive heart valve surgery with the MitraClip — a device that clips the mitral valve leaflets together to help restore proper function and blood flow.

Denis underwent a procedure in September 2014.

As part of his recovery, he took part in cardiac rehab. This outpatient program helps make the heart stronger through exercise and tips for heart-healthy living.

Both Denis and Nancy are grateful for the care he received from the team at UPMC’s Center for Mitral Valve Disease.

These days, Denis is feeling much better. He and Nancy are back to spending time with their eight grandkids and are planning a longer stay in Myrtle Beach next year with a renewed quality of life.

Denis' treatment and results may not be representative of similar cases.

Learn More About Mitral Regurgitation

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