Marie Becotte: Heart Valve Disease

Marie Becotte has been through a lot, including the loss of two children and her brother. This year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, her husband was injured when he fell on the stairs, but Marie  found hope and inspiration as she looks ahead to the new year. It all starts with a procedure to fix one of her heart valves that left her unable to enjoy even simple activities of daily living.

There are many people who think the regular signs of aging include feeling tired and having more difficulty breathing, but the reality for Marie was that she had heart valve disease – specifically a very leaky tricuspid heart valve.

Marie’s answer was a new clip technology that could fix the leak. She was able to receive the therapy because she was eligible for a clinical study evaluating the new, minimally invasive technology. Today she feels great as she reflects on the difference in her ability to breathe and enjoy being active.

“My husband and I are both active and we like to walk and bike, but over time I couldn’t do hardly anything,” said Marie. “I’d walk to the corner and up the block and I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t even put my clothes on without getting short of breath. Since my surgery I’m walking 30 to 35 minutes four times a week. I have a stationary bike that I ride when I don’t walk. I can breathe now and it’s wonderful.”

Marie’s heart journey started several years ago when she was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. She was seeing a heart doctor, but her symptoms were getting worse. Then her doctor sent her to see Dr. Paul Sorajja, cardiologist and Roger L. and Lynn C. Headrick Family Chair of the Valve Science Center at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation®.

In addition to being short of breath, Marie’s symptoms included feeling very tired. After running a few tests, they confirmed her tricuspid heart valve was not healthy. Currently, the only option for treating tricuspid regurgitation (leaky tricuspid heart valve) is through open heart surgery. For Marie, her timing was perfect as Dr. Sorajja was the lead physician for a new research study evaluating a new clip technology that had the potential to fix her leaky valve that could be delivered through her leg and guided to the appropriate place in the heart.

“It is wonderful,” said Marie. “It’s just like it’s a miracle. It really is because I had a severe tricuspid leak, so they clipped it twice. I was told that during the procedure, when Dr. Sorajja clipped my valve, they all clapped. I missed that because I was sleeping.”

After her procedure, Marie stayed in the hospital one night, which is a significant benefit of the minimally invasive procedure. She is thankful for the opportunity to participate in this research and become an example of what advancing technologies can do for people living with heart valve disease.

“I feel good,” said Marie. “I wake up and I feel good. I didn’t know anything prior to this, but I’ve learned a lot. I receive care from great doctors and wonderful nurses and research staff too. They explained everything and made me comfortable. I’m doing better all the time. I’m just thankful, that’s all I can say.”

 Any Gift, Big or Small, has a Significant Impact on People’s Lives