For the media

No slowing centenarian down after heart procedure

By The Health News Team | December 14, 2022
Mr. John “Jack” Seaman poses in front of an organ he plays at home.

Mr. John “Jack” Seaman poses in front of an organ he plays at home.

John “Jack” Seaman talks about his life in richly detailed descriptions and flashbacks. In his younger years, he enjoyed ballroom dancing and even won local dance competitions. He plays and previously owned six organs — though he’s downsized his collection to three. And he has an extensive collection of vintage cameras, complementing his interest in photography. What’s more, there’s a mineral museum named after his family.

At age 103, Jack shows no signs of slowing down, especially with a revitalized heart, thanks to the skilled cardiovascular experts at Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s Burr Heart & Vascular Center.

When the body’s pump can’t do its job
Last October, friends drove Jack to Sharp Grossmont Hospital because he was experiencing severe dizziness at home. “I was wheeled into the emergency room with a wheelchair and I was seen by the doctors who did a good job,” says Jack.

“Jack was found to have severe aortic valve stenosis, a condition that is very prevalent with elderly adults and can lead to death if untreated,” says Dr. Jad Omran, an interventional cardiologist specializing in valvular heart disease and affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

According to Dr. Omran, the heart is like the body’s pump, keeping oxygen-rich blood flowing to the organs so that they have the energy to work properly. Heart valves keep blood flowing in the right direction. Sometimes these valves can narrow, reducing blood flow.

When the heart’s aortic valve narrows, this condition is known as aortic valve stenosis. One of the most common causes of aortic valve stenosis is calcification, or hardening, of the valve. Over time, calcium deposits can build and narrow the valve opening, preventing it from functioning normally.

TAVR helps the body keep blood flowing
After careful consideration, Dr. Omran recommended that Jack undergo a type of valve replacement known as TAVR. TAVR, or transcatheter aortic valve replacement, is a minimally invasive procedure to replace a faulty valve located in the top part of the heart.

“Mr. Seaman’s advanced age was unusual to us when we approached his case,” says Dr. Omran. “But generally, advanced age is never a contraindication for minimally invasive valvular therapies. As long as patients have acceptable mental capacity, good family support and acceptable risk to have the procedure, we generally offer these therapies.”

Jack’s care team performed diagnostic exams, including computed tomography (CT) of the heart, chest and abdomen. These exams help surgeons to precisely predict where to implant the new heart valve and can result in a smoother, uneventful procedure.

Advice for a long, healthy life
Since returning home, Jack no longer has dizzy spells and continues to rebuild his strength. He goes for walks with the help of a walker, hops on his stationary bicycle for 10-minute rides and even manages to squeeze in push-up exercises.

“I have very slight pain, but I take an aspirin,” says Jack. “I want to thank my doctors for all their help, as I am getting back to normal gradually. I also do exercises to help me get back to normal.”

Along with his restored heart, Jack credits good genes, abstaining from smoking and alcohol, and having a good sense of humor as the secrets to his longevity. And with a grin and twinkle in his eye, he adds, “And don’t act like a nut.”

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