My Dad's Mitral Valve Repair
It's been about twenty four years now, but I distinctly remember when I heard the news. My dad had a heart attack. I was nineteen years old, living away from home for the first time and unable to return home. Later I would come to find out that my dad had actually had a mitral valve repair.
The mitral valve is just that - a valve with two leaflets, that separate the atrium from the ventricles. There are two atriums and two ventricles in the heart, one of each on the left and on the right. The atrium is a small chamber on the top of the heart and the ventricle is a larger chamber under the atrium.
The left atrium receives blood from the body. When it is full it contracts sending blood through the mitral valve into the right ventricle. When the ventricle is full it sends blood to the lungs where the blood picks up oxygen. It then comes back to the right atrium, then to the right ventricle. From right ventricle blood is sent throughout the body where it delivers oxygen and food to all the cells after which it is sent back to the left atrium starting the process all over.
What happens in mitral valve prolapse is one of the leaflets fails to close all the way and blood leaks back into the atrium, causing many problems.
So, I wasn't there when it happened, but when I was able to get home I remember the scar on my dad's chest from the surgery. Even today that image inspires me to make good health choices.
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