Featured Patient Story

Helene’s Story

At age 87, Helene still ran the resort she owned with boundless energy— despite having a heart flutter (atrial fibrillation) since childhood—until a new heart valve problem began sapping her strength.

It wasn’t obvious she had a new heart issue until her doctor recognized that extreme fatigue was a sign of heart disease in women. It’s one of the less obvious signs of heart disease that women sometimes experience instead of more recognizable symptoms like chest pain.

Helene was checked out by the Marshfield Clinic and Ministry Health Care heart care team. She was diagnosed with a heart valve that wasn’t closing properly, a condition that gave her mere months to live.

Helene and her doctors agreed that, at her age and with multiple heart issues, she wasn’t a good candidate for open-heart surgery. It would have been a risky major surgery followed by six months of recovery, so the Marshfield Clinic and Ministry Heart Care heart care team suggested a new solution not previously available in the region called TAVR.

That’s how Helene became the area’s first recipient of the minimally invasive TAVR procedure in April of 2012. Using a catheter inserted through a vein in her leg, Helene’s doctors replaced her heart valve from inside her heart, without a chest incision. “I was in the hospital for only two days. I never felt any pain, and I was back taking care of the lawn in just three weeks!”

Helene not only outlived her original prognosis: she’s back enjoying all the things she enjoys in her busy life.