Of diagnosis and dependency
On a visit to his daughter in another city, Akhil was hospitalised after experiencing chest pain. It was a heart attack. He was fitted with a cardiovascular stent which treated the problem at hand. Once discharged, Akhil left for his hometown and was busy settling into his daily routine, when life threw another curveball at him.
He felt an onset of severe fatigue, which indicated that something else was also not quite right and what followed was months of consultations about his new set of health issues and disturbed, sleepless nights as well.
Life felt worrisome and extremely limited. And for someone like Akhil who was used to an active and independent lifestyle...it was very difficult to make peace with this.
Soon after, Akhil was diagnosed with a mitral valve leak – a condition where the blood flows backward instead of flowing forward or leaks past closed heart valves.
Dr. Ravinder Singh Rao, Interventional & Structural Cardiologist: “Mitral valve regurgitation causes a lot of fluid to get accumulated in the lungs. These patients would go to bed and in the middle of night they would sit up, gasping for breath. They would have repeated hospitalizations. The quality of life goes down.”
As Akhil often says, something only people who have experienced heart conditions will know, is that it chips away at the little things one takes for granted. When it comes to critical health issues such as those related to the heart, we often tend to overlook the smaller, unobvious ways in which the condition persistently disrupts normal life. We don't expect something as basic as sleep to be affected by a heart condition. But this relationship between a mitral valve leak and the dearth of sleep is an intricately intertwined and critical one.
The lack of sleep was just one aspect that was causing Akhil strain; it was also the disturbance of “normal” life during waking hours that took an emotional and physical toll on him. While he was grateful for the care and support from his family, it was extremely difficult for him to see his loved ones put their lives on hold to look after him. The disruption to their lives, as often seen with caregivers, weighed heavy on him.
The diagnosis, however, brought with it a glimmer of hope. A senior cardiologist suggested ‘clipping’ i.e. transcatheter mitral valve repair, known for its long-ranging impacts on patients worldwide. And after opting for the procedure, it’s safe to say that his life started to look up again!
Dr. Ravinder Singh Rao, Interventional & Structural Cardiologist: “By putting in a clip, we treated Akhil’s mitral regurgitation. Interestingly, the very first day, he could lie down flat and he said to us and I quote – Doctor, I’m sleeping for the first time in six months like a baby.”