I am a survivor of heart and valve disease.
I lived with mitral valve prolapse with severe regurgitation
for 10 years before it was recommended that I have a valve
repair. During those years of watching my condition, I gave
myself a birthday present each year and scheduled follow-up
appointments the month of my birthday, every August.
How It Started
At a routine physical in 2001, my primary care physician
detected a heart murmur. A specialist told me I had mitral
valve prolapse. I was given the option of taking beta
blockers that would “treat” the palpitations that I would
occasionally feel but did not attribute to the newly diagnosed
heart murmur. Uncomfortable with that type of generalized
prescription, I sought a second opinion and became a patient
of Robert Bonow of Northwestern Memorial Medical.
After several years of annual echocardiograms,
How My Murmuring Heart
stress tests and a watchful eye, in October 2009, I was
diagnosed with a leaky mitral valve. In October 2012, I
While I struggled with the concept of having surgery
at such an early age, especially being in optimal health, I
was advised that a repair to the valve is more advantageous
than a replacement. The hardest pill to swallow was the fact
that my disease would only get worse as time progressed.
The heart would become weaker and both the ventricle
and atrium would continue to enlarge; pressure in the
lungs continue to increase; chordae (cord-like tendons that
connect to the tricuspid valve and mitral valve) become
weaker, possibly rupture and cause irreversible damage.
I continuously struggled with the thought that while I
maintained a healthy weight of 125 pounds, overall healthy
diet, non-smoker, non-diabetic, perfect blood pressure,
cholesterol within limits and moderate exercise, for me, a
structural abnormality simply ruled this disease.
Became the Queen of Hearts
Christine Rekash, Survivor | Woodridge, Illinois
As soon as she received clearance from her cardiologist, Christine began a kickboxing regime.