- Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day

Reader Story

Hi, my name is Courtney. I’m a 32-year-old Human Resources Director from Charlestown, New Hampshire and I recently found out I have heart valve disease.

I went to a new OB/GYN and she was looking at my records. She asked me when the last time I had an echocardiogram done. I said I wasn’t sure, maybe 4 or 5 years. Then she said, “I’ll go ahead and put in a referral, that way we can check the progression of your disease.” My what now?! I didn’t know what she was talking about. I said I just have high BP, I don’t understand. She said no, you have heart valve disease with an aortic aneurysm. I was shocked. Devastated.
I had my first echo done and the NP who read me my results basically told me that it looked like one of my valves was a little thicker and that’s what caused my high BP. Apparently, that was not the case. I have a bicuspid aortic valve with regurgitation and an ascending aortic aneurysm that was about 3.7cm. So I had another echo done, and it showed I was now at 3.9cm. My cardiologist had me to an MRI, turns out my aneurysm is actually 4.1cm.

Currently, I’m under watch. I’ll get one MRI a year to watch the progression of the aneurysm and disease. Really the only changes I’ve made is I no longer lift extremely heavy weight, no more amateur boxing, and no more trying to come in first during a 5k. I still exercise (cardio and weight lift) almost daily for about 90 minutes. My diet is on track and I’m at a healthy weight. I’m sad that I can no longer box, but at least I got the opportunity to compete.
Right now, it’s a waiting game. I will need a new aortic valve and an aneurysm repair. I find solace and inspiration in reading other’s stories.