Stuff you read on the internet that scares the crap out of you

From this page:

Expectations after surgery:
The rate of success of heart valve surgery is high — and increasing. The operation provides symptom relief and prolongs life. The death rate varies depending on the heart valve and averages 2% to 5%. Approximately 2 of every 3 patients who received an artificial mitral valve are still alive 9 years after the surgery. Life-long anticoagulant therapy is necessary for patients with artificial heart valves. The clicking of the mechanical heart valve may be heard in the chest — this is normal.

2 of every 3 patients? 9 years? Oh my god. Okay, wait a minute. That’s for valve replacement, not repair. And, this make me feel much better:

Conclusions– Mitral valve repair using Carpentier’s technique in patients with nonrheumatic MVI provides excellent long-term results with a mortality rate similar to that of the general population and a very low incidence of reoperation.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. lisa

    oh lord. #1 rule of having surgery: do not read about it on the internet!
    probably best to ask your doctor for the full and complete picture on these stats, even if they are accurate… perhaps a lot of patients have other factors that you do not.
    btw, i photographed a Big Thing for ya… it’s in my flickr feed. let me know if you need the url.

  2. barista

    I work in a doctor’s office (not yours, don’t worry) and the Internet can be good or bad. It usually allows the patient to ask good questions and make informed decisions. However, if they only read about it at one site, it might skew their expectations. If you are going to read about it, read about it from many sources, then talk about it with your doctor, friends and family.
    It might be helpful for others who are going through something similar if you wrote about your experiences with this. Larry Wall did a diary regarding his cornea transplant, and this past December, I wrote about getting my tooth pulled. Granted these aren’t the same as heart surgery, but I had a couple of people email me saying they were going through something similar and appreciated my writing about it.
    At any rate, I hope everything goes well for you.

  3. Steph Mineart

    Thanks for speaking up and easing my mind a bit, both of you. 🙂 I am planning on writing about my experience, if only to make sense of stuff myself.

  4. Jess P

    I guess everbody’s experience (& symptoms) are different. On 07/31/04 (2 mos. after my 50th bday), the mitral valve in my heart catastrophically ruptured. After almost 3 wks in ICU, this was diagnosed & an artificial valve inserted. I had numerous complications; a)mini-stroke that has never been diagnosed; b)major gall-bladder infection – later removed; & c) problems w/ my swallow reflex requiring a g-tube for about 6 wks.
    Today, I feel fine and suffer little ill effects from any of it. I can occasionally hear the valve clicking away in my chest and sometimes feel a little breathless after climbing stairs, but actually I may be in better physical condition than before this incident because I go to the gym 3 or 4 days a wk.
    Life expectancy? Who knows. I guess, like sick and healthy people alike, I’ll die when I die. In the meantime, I try to enjoy every day because we never know what tomorrow may bring.

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