Shirley Clarkson is a remarkable woman with a strong will to live. At age 81, she has undergone a multitude of health issues. This is her story of survival, thanks to recent progressions in medicine.
In 1998, Shirley was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer and was treated with high does of radiation. Despite aggressive treatment, she overcame difficult odds and was able to get back to an active lifestyle that included regular workouts and miles of daily walks.
Some 10 years later Shirley’s general practitioner discovered a heart murmur during an echocardiogram and recommended she be seen at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. Here, Dr. Michael Shea diagnosed her with aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the aortic valve opening, likely caused by radiation treatment. Continue reading →
At the tender age of 92, Weltha “Madge” Cowles still looks forward to new experiences. In fact, she recently returned from what she says was the experience of a lifetime: being honored in Washington, D.C., for her Rosie the Riveter work during World War II. Rosie the Riveter was the name given to American women who worked in factories and shipyards during WW II.
Madge became a “Rosie” at the Willow Run bomber plant in Ypsilanti at age 18. Eventually, she was trained to perform electrical work on bomber planes, alongside her father. For three years, the pair drove from their home in Albion to Willow Run, working during the week and sleeping in a trailer, then returning home on weekends. “I enjoyed my work and fellow workers. I never missed a single day,” she says proudly. Continue reading →
Thelma Thompson was never one to shy away from exercise. At 67, she was accustomed to playing 36 holes of golf in a single day. When she noticed she was tiring more easily, Thelma chalked it up to “age.” But she realized her diagnosis was much more serious than she suspected when she suffered a heart attack in 2013. Thelma was shocked to discover her coronary artery was 95 percent blocked. At the same time, she was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve and an aneurysm of her thoracic ascending aorta.
Thelma underwent surgery for her blocked artery at her local hospital, and was then referred to the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center in January 2015 for treatment of her bicuspid valve and aortic aneurysm.Continue reading →
Aortic stenosis is a condition in which the aortic valve does not open fully, decreasing blood flow from the heart to the body. Although open-heart surgery is the treatment of choice for aortic stenosis, about one-third of patients with this disease are not candidates for the surgery and stand to benefit from less invasive heart valve replacement options.
Joe was one of these patients. His age and heart history, including bypass surgery in 1995 and a congestive heart failure condition, put him at high risk for open-heart surgery. According to Joe’s daughter, Donna Ruemenapp, her dad just wanted to feel better. “He was tired, short of breath and couldn’t sleep due to congestive heart failure.” And while his former doctor recommended treating his symptoms rather pursuing other options, Joe and Donna weren’t about to give up. Continue reading →
Ray Tollefson realized his dream of traveling to France for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
Ray Tollefson barely survived World War II. As a U.S. Army Ranger, the 89-year-old remembers D-Day well, including the severe injuries he sustained during the battle at Normandy, and his ultimate mission to stay alive. Ray not only survived the war, he went on to live a full, happy life, which continues today, thanks to the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) he received at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center for his aortic stenosis. His life-saving TAVR procedure enabled Ray to fulfill an important wish: to travel to France this year to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
Aortic stenosis is a condition in which the aortic valve does not open fully, decreasing blood flow from the heart to the body. Although open-heart surgery is the treatment of choice for aortic stenosis, about one-third of patients with this disease are not candidates for the surgery and stand to benefit from less invasive heart valve replacement options. Ray’s medical history placed him at high risk for open-heart surgery. Continue reading →
Is your elderly parent or loved one “just getting older”? Or could his or her health problems be aortic stenosis symptoms?
Is your elderly parent or loved one experiencing normal slowdowns in health as a result of old age, or is it something more severe?
Aortic stenosis symptoms parallel health concerns that are often attributed to old age, including:
Increasing fatigue and low energy level
Shortness of breath
Lightheadedness or dizziness
Fainting or passing out
What is aortic stenosis?
Aortic stenosis is a condition in which the aortic valve does not open fully, decreasing blood flow from the heart to the body. Severe aortic stenosis is often unpreventable and is most commonly attributed to old age (70+). Other causes may be a buildup of calcium deposits causing narrowing of the valve, high blood pressure, radiation therapy or a history of rheumatic fever.
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