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Sharp Health News

An easier way to treat leaky heart valves

Feb. 3, 2020

An easier way to treat leaky heart valves

Jerry Buckley has a busy job and an active life. When he needed a leaky heart valve repaired, his Sharp Rees-Stealy doctors helped him recover faster and with less pain.

Jerry Buckley had just been appointed to a new post as president at Reedley College in Central California. He needed to fix a leaky heart valve with minimal disruption to his hectic and demanding work schedule, so he turned to the experts at Sharp Rees-Stealy.

Jerry had mitral valve surgery several years ago, but had recent failure of the mitral valve,” says Dr. Paulo Guillinta, chief of cardiovascular diseases for Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group. “We knew we could not repeat open-heart surgery as it would have disrupted his new job. So, he underwent minimally invasive mitral valve repair.”

Treating mitral valve disease
Mitral valve repair and mitral valve replacement are procedures to treat diseases of the mitral valve — the valve located between the left heart chambers (left atrium and left ventricle) — that prevent it from closing properly.

Buckley was thankful for the procedure and the quick recovery. “Due to my worsening condition, I entered the Sharp ER on a Thursday afternoon with significant shortness of breath,” he says. “My condition was evaluated that afternoon and then I was scheduled for a cardiac catheterization the next day. During the 2.5-hour procedure, my leaking mitral valve was repaired using a catheter-based device. I was discharged on Sunday, with a simple bandage on my right leg covering the catheterization site, and returned to work on Monday.”

Buckley is no stranger to heart care. He spent 22 years working at Grossmont College, including 15 years as a professor in the cardiovascular technology program. In the 1980s, he worked for Sharp, starting as a physiologic monitoring technician and later becoming a research coordinator for the artificial heart and left ventricular assist device (LVAD) investigational device program.

Back to an active life
Buckley was delighted with the results of his valve repair. “I experienced no pain from the procedure and my shortness of breath was completely eliminated,” he says.

Dr. Robert Kumar, an interventional cardiologist with Sharp Rees-Stealy, performed the minimally invasive mitral valve procedure while Dr. Guillinta performed the transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) during the procedure. TEE uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to make detailed pictures of the heart and the arteries that lead to and from it.

Six months after his procedure, Buckley has already returned to an active lifestyle in Reedley, about 25 miles from Fresno. He and his wife live on a lake and enjoy kayaking three to four times a week. In addition, they hike and walk regularly in their community.

“I noticed an almost immediate increase in my energy and exercise tolerance following the procedure, and an increase in my mental focus,” he says. “I received excellent care and had an excellent outcome. I am grateful to the entire Sharp HealthCare team for making the quality of the patient experience their top priority every day.”

Learn more about heart valve repair at Sharp.

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