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News and Information
February 15, 2019
Listening to the Heart: Custom Cardiac Care Earns National Recognition for Harrison Medical Center
Landa Rose of Port Orchard was an avid soccer player and CrossFit enthusiast with no signs of heart disease when she noticed something new: a small, vertical crease in her earlobe. An Internet search revealed that the crease could be a sign of cardiovascular disease.
More curious than concerned, Landa mentioned the discovery to her primary care doctor, who listened closely to her heart at her next checkup. “She said ‘I’ll be darned. You’ve got a murmur,” Landa recalled.
An echocardiogram soon revealed that Landa had a form of congenital heart disease called bicuspid aortic valve (BAV), with just two openings in her aortic valve instead of three. Over time, the overworked valve can stiffen, narrow, and malfunction, causing blood to leak back into the heart as the heart’s main blood vessel, the aorta, becomes enlarged.
Without surgery, BAV can lead to life-threatening complications including aneurysm and heart failure. Though 1 to 2 percent of the population are born with the condition, many don’t experience symptoms like shortness of breath, dizziness, and chest pain until mid-life.
The only treatment for BAV is open heart surgery, a frightening prospect for the 51-year-old wife and mother. Her CHI Franciscan cardiologist Dr. Satyavardhan Pulukurthy, was caring and attentive, and understood her hesitation, Landa said. Rather than schedule an immediate surgery, Dr. Pulukurthy checked Landa’s heart regularly while she learned more about her condition.
After over a year of careful monitoring, Dr. Pulukurthy told Landa that her cardiac function was declining, increasing her risk for complications. It was time to schedule her heart surgery with cardiothoracic surgery specialist Dr. Chris King, at Bremerton’s Harrison Medical Center.
“Every patient approaches heart surgery with a unique set of goals and expectations, and Landa was no exception,” said Dr. King. “Landa wanted to avoid the need for another heart surgery later in life, so we installed a mechanical valve and replaced her dilated aorta during a single surgery.”
“The ability to perform multiple complex heart surgeries simultaneously is one of the qualities that sets Harrison Medical Center apart,” said Dr. King. Harrison recently earned a Healthgrades Cardiac Surgery Excellence Award, an accolade Dr. King attributes to a history of strong patient outcomes after lifesaving cardiac procedures. “We perform these procedures at a nationally recognized level consistently,” he said.
Excellent cardiac care doesn’t end in the operating room, King noted. “Harrison’s exceptional perioperative care, from the intensive care unit all the way through cardiac rehabilitation and physical therapy, gets patients through the entire process from start to finish,” he said. “The entire hospital, from ICU nurses to our lab staff members to therapists, cares for each individual patient and their unique problems to create the best possible outcomes. We’re meticulous about that.”
Just a month after her December 2018 surgery, Landa is walking, hiking, and back at work full-time. Soon, she’ll begin cardiac rehabilitation, then get back to scoring goals as member of her indoor soccer league.
“Dr. King and the entire team at Harrison did a phenomenal job,” she said. “This kind and caring group of people made me feel like part of a close family during one of the scariest times in my life. They listened to my concerns, answered my questions and supported my entire family. They `said, ‘we’re going to get you through this.’.”