LITTLE ROCK, AR- All it took was for someone to notice Reba Graham’s shortness of breath.
“I took about 10 steps and down I went,” says Reba Graham, Mitraclip patient.
Graham, 75, didn’t realize how bad it was. Doctors found she had mitral regurgitation, a heart condition. It’s caused by a leaky heart valve.
“I shouldn’t be here I guess, but I am,” she says.
Graham credits Mitraclip, a new procedure at Baptist Health that uses a catheter to repair the leak in the heart valve with a clip. Reba was a high risk patient for the traditional open heart surgery. At one point, open heart surgery was the only option for patients with mitral regurgitation, but Mitraclip does the same thing except it’s minimally invasive. It may have just saved Graham’s life.
“At Baptist, we are trying to stay ahead of all the innovations that are out there,” says Ernesto Ruiz-Rodriguez, Director of Structural Heart Program at Baptist Health.
Baptist Health Doctor Ernesto Ruiz-Rodriguez says new research compared patients who treated mitral regurgitation with medicine to those who underwent Mitraclip and took medicine at the same time. It found patients who got the procedure and took medicine did better.
“They live longer, they have better quality of lives, and they actually stay out of the hospital for longer,” explains Dr. Ruiz-Rodriguez.
Today, Graham doesn’t have to take too many breaks while running around town.
“I’m going to Walmart, walking around with a buggy and I drive to town 10 miles there and 10 miles back, get my hair fixed,” says Graham.
What she thought felt normal, shocks her now, knowing mitra clip has allowed her to feel a huge difference in her quality of life.
“Watch your signs, you know your body,” she warns.
Baptist Health is one of two centers in Arkansas that offer the Mitraclip procedure.