Petrina Cordes: ice cream and Iceland after valve replacement

Petrina Cordes knew she was at risk for heart disease – she had a heart murmur and was on medication – but believed things to be under control. At nearly 90 years old, she was living alone, gardening, spending time with her family, and walking at least 20 minutes every day. Then, one morning, she started to feel like she had a cold coming on, and suddenly, she couldn’t get air. She was taken to the hospital by ambulance, where she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure caused by aortic stenosis.

Petrina CordesShortly after her diagnosis, Petrina learned of the Cohort A Partner II Trial sponsored by Edwards Lifesciences, in which her damaged heart valve could be replaced via a minimally-invasive transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). The only thing holding her back was that the trial was randomized: half of the patients would receive a new valve via TAVR, while the others would undergo open heart surgery.

Either way, though, Petrina was going to have surgery. If she didn’t, she faced a long series of medical procedures, including seeing her doctor frequently for heart failure symptoms. That wasn’t the life she wanted. However, with Petrina’s age, her family and primary care physician were worried about the prospect of open heart surgery.

Thankfully, Petrina was selected to receive a new valve via TAVR. She went into the operating room laughing, and says that, after performing the procedure, Dr. Michael Mooney “came bouncing out of the OR” to tell her family how well it had gone. She spent just a few hours in the ICU and was released a few days later. The night after she got home, she went to Dairy Queen with friends. “I couldn’t believe that I’d even had surgery,” she said. “I would not have been going out for ice cream if I’d had open heart surgery.”

Since her surgery, Petrina has resumed her normal, independent life. The following year, she traveled to Iceland with her daughter and granddaughter. She has to eat more carefully – watching her sodium, fat and cholesterol intake, and reading food labels closely – but all in all, things are the same. And she says she’d do it all again: when asked if she was nervous about partaking in clinical research, Petrina said no. “I was just happy to be part of it.”

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