Charlene Henderson, nicknamed “Charlee,” had experienced heart palpitations since childhood. It felt like her heart was skipping a beat.
In early summer of 2020, Henderson was working a hectic customer service job during a pandemic. She often felt anxious or her chest felt heavy. In the middle of a busy shift, she sometimes found it difficult to catch her breath.
After consulting with a local cardiologist, Henderson was referred to H. Frank Todd, MD, cardiovascular surgeon with East Tennessee Cardiovascular Surgery Group. She ventured to Parkwest Medical Center in Knoxville to see Dr. Todd with trepidation, because she knew something was amiss.
Dr. Todd confirmed that her mitral valve was leaking. If she continued without intervention, Charlee faced continually worsening shortness of breath, increased risk of heart failure or increased risk of sudden death. He recommended surgery to repair the valve.
Instead of traditional mitral valve surgery, an open-heart procedure where the surgeon uses an artificial valve to replace the damaged one, Dr. Todd says Henderson was a good candidate for minimally invasive mitral valve repair. In August, he performed a right mini-thoracotomy on Henderson with a 3 to 4-inch incision. She stayed at Parkwest for three days before going home.
Dr. Todd offers additional information about heart valves here: Covenant Health News-Charlene Henderson Valve Repair Parkwest April 2021