Heart disease, TAVI, and Frank’s return to the golf course

Heart valve disease is a very common condition which impacts up to 1 in 10 Australians. Unfortunately, the signs are often chalked up to simple ageing. This means many patients don’t get an accurate diagnosis and treatment until it’s too late.

Fortunately for Frank, regular heart health checks identified his heart disease early on. When his symptoms began to interfere with his ability to play golf, he spoke to his GP immediately and was referred to a cardiologist for routine echocardiograms.

Frank was diagnosed with aortic stenosis, a common condition in which the heart’s aortic valve gradually hardens and loses its ability to pump blood effectively. As it progressed, his routine echocardiograms became more and more frequent until they were performed every three months. His cardiologist knew it was time to act and referred Frank to Prof Dion Stub.

With specialised expertise in interventional cardiology, Prof Stub was able to effectively evaluate Frank and schedule prompt treatment. It was recommended that frank underwent a transthoracic aortic valve replacement (TAVI) procedure. This would replace his hardened valve and restore normal blood flow through his heart.

TAVI is a minimally invasive procedure which is performed through a tiny incision in the groin, while the patient is conscious and able to give feedback. Frank, who spoke to his surgeon as the procedure was conducted, was pleasantly surprised by the procedure’s simplicity and immediate effect.

“The hardest part – when you come back from the theatre, they put you on the bed and you have to stay still for two hours. But after that, it was just normal.” Frank was able to walk around soon after waking up and was back on the golf course within two weeks.

Thanks to regular heart health checks and noticing the symptoms, Frank’s heart disease was identified early and treated effectively once it began to threaten his health. It’s important to know that the signs of heart disease – such as shortness of breath, trouble sleeping, feeling tired and dizziness – are not just signs of ‘getting older’.

Regular heart health check-ups become more and more important as you age. After age 60, they are recommended every two years[1] – this allows heart disease to be diagnosed as soon as possible, monitored effectively, and treated when the time is right.

“Think about it as a gateway to a better way of life,” Frank says. “You’ll feel much better, 100% better than you do.”

You can hear Frank’s whole story, as well as Prof Stub’s expertise on TAVI, by watching the video below. If you experience symptoms of heart disease, request a GP referral to Prof Dion Stub for timely treatment.

[1] Healthdirect, 2020