I am a 43 yoa woman that found out a year ago that I had a...

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

I am a 43 year old woman that found out a year ago that I had a severe mitral regurgitation. I have extreme fatigue to the point that I have no energy when I get home from work and if I sit for just a few minutes I could just fall asleep without hesitation. I often have a discomfort in my chest and palpitations, but was told by a surgeon that nothing has changed in my condition for the year so I do not need surgery, even with my symptoms. They concluded that I must exercise more and go in and do a exercise treadmill test. Wouldn't exercising more make me more fatigued? And how do I know how severe is severe? Is it not better to fix normal size heart than to wait until damage starts to appear?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Regarding mitral valve surgery, this is only an option if it is what is causing your fatigue and symptoms. Perhaps the doctors are wondering if something else is making you feel fatigued, such as lack of exercise. Severe heart valve problems usually cause heart failure symptoms- which is a buildup of fluid in your lungs and legs. Has that happened to you yet? Sometimes, that can be managed with medication without even needing surgery.

What I would recommend is first, you could always get a second opinion from another surgeon to see if they could offer you other suggestions. Second, you could ask to be referred for cardiac rehab, which is where you can exercise under the supervision of trained professionals who will know how to help someone with your heart problems. Lastly, I would suggest getting the treadmill test done to be sure you do not have blockages in your arteries that are causing your fatigue.

Heart surgery is tough- there are a lot of risks involved. Try the suggestions above and see how that goes. Good luck.

Community Answers

Mart answered...

My brother just had mitral valve replacement. It was only a few months since his condition was diagnosed and he was feeling the extreme exhaustion also. Medication was not helping enough. Sometimes waiting too long is not good. Ask your Dr. for a more complete explanation about your condition and why you are feeling worse....not better as you should be. One can not exercise when feeling like that.