First published in the Aug. 27 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
Content provided by Adventist Health Glendale
After learning that she had atrial fibrillation, or A-fib, a rapid heart rhythm that can lead to life-threatening blood clots, Barbara Thompson didn’t feel ready for traditional open-heart surgery.
“I didn’t want invasive surgery, and I was afraid my body wouldn’t respond well to extensive recovery,” she says.
Luckily, she had options.
The 75-year-old was able to improve her quality of life and avoid invasive surgery thanks to two new procedures offered at Adventist Health Glendale. Thompson visited Dr. Amir Solhpour, director of the structural heart disease program at Adventist Health Glendale, who provided guidance on treatment options.
“The consultations were so informative. Dr. Solhpour explained my options and told me all the facts,” she said. “I felt welcome to ask further questions before I made my decision.”
Thompson opted to have two procedures. First, a MitraClip device was implanted to close a leaky mitral valve and repair the portion of her heart that was causing her shortness of breath. Then, Solhpour implanted a Watchman device to minimize the chance that blood clots would form in her heart and ultimately cause a stroke.
With shorter recovery than traditional heart surgery, procedures such as the MitraClip and the Watchman are ideal for older patients.
Often, older patients have additional health problems which do not make them good candidates for traditional open-heart surgery. Because minimally-invasive surgery means smaller incisions, less pain and shorter recovery time, it can improve quality of life for people well into their 90s.
After each of her procedures, spaced two months apart, Thompson went home after a minimal hospital stay.
“They took excellent care of me,” she said.
The MitraClip and the Watchman are part of a growing suite of minimally-invasive heart procedures that Adventist Health Glendale surgeons are using to help people feel better, faster.
The hospital has recently expanded its number of treatment options, allowing more people to seek innovative solutions that are not always available elsewhere in the region.
“Many patients see outcomes that are as good as surgery, but without the downtime,” Solhpour said.
Since her procedures, Thompson said she has more energy and enjoys spending time with her husband and friends again. She remains thankful to Solhpour for sharing his expertise in newer minimally-invasive procedures.
“He was phenomenal,” she said.
Adventist Health Glendale is recognized as one of country’s 100 Best Hospitals for cardiac care, coronary intervention, coronary bypass surgery and treatment of heart attack and heart failure by Healthgrades, an organization that evaluates hospital quality based on patient outcomes.
To learn more, visit AdventistHealthGlendale.org.