“After a couple of days, they transferred me to the main hospital,” Mann said. “I told them, ‘Guess I’m not going home for Thanksgiving.’”
He was right. It took two weeks at UF Health Jacksonville to build enough strength to walk out. However, the journey was far from over.
“They didn’t forget about me,” Mann said as his hazel eyes lit up with appreciation. “I didn’t have insurance, but that didn’t matter. They checked up on me.”
Pineda prescribed Mann medications and ordered he rest at home in preparation for a heart procedure. In the interim, Mann obtained insurance, his heart function increased to a safe level for the procedure and a date was scheduled.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, a procedure less invasive than open heart surgery to replace a narrowed aortic valve, is traditionally performed on older patients. Pineda said two key reasons prompted cardiologists to select TAVR as the best option for the 56-year-old.
“We typically use this on patients who are 70, but Mr. Mann was born with bicuspid aortic valve, and when he got to us, he was so sick,” Pineda said. The congenital abnormality is common. However, in Mann’s case, he developed stenosis.
“Instead of having three leaflets in the heart valve, he was born with two,” Pineda explained. “Also, his heart valve was severely calcified and narrowed. Once you have that, there is significant pressure that the heart muscle needs to work against to get the blood out to the rest of the body.”
Had Mann known the signs to look for, he could have gotten help sooner.
“I was sleeping with six pillows stacked up,” he said. “I quit smoking 18 months ago, but it got harder to breathe.”
“That’s typical in patients with congestive heart failure,” Pineda said. “Severe fatigue, swelling of the legs, chest pain or pressure, fainting episodes and shortness of breath when they are walking or lying flat. All of those are signs and symptoms of heart disease.”