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Ronald Young, TAVR and Watchman Implant Patient

Ronald Young - Gladwin, MI

"Dr. Rizk has saved me a couple times when others gave up."

Quality Heart Care Gave Him the Strength to Care for His Family Farm

Despite being retired, Ronald Young has his hands full. In the face of serious cardiovascular disease, he has stepped up to some challenging tasks and has managed to stick with them.

Young has dealt with heart disease for a long time. He wasn't long into adulthood when cardiovascular problems began affecting his breathing and energy. He had his first stent placed when he was just 44 years old.

Now 68, Young lives in Gladwin with his wife of 46 years, Valerie. The couple recently came into possession of the family's farm, which they bought from his father-in-law's trust. For now, they lease most of the land, while Young repairs its structures. Farm construction is physically demanding, though. Young would get short of breath and run out of energy quickly. Even when carrying just a wooden board, he would have to set it down frequently and catch his breath. "I was getting so far behind," he said.

Part of the trouble was Young's atrial fibrillation. This chronic condition prevented his blood from pumping efficiently, decreasing the flow of oxygen to his muscles and organs. It also comes with the risk of blood clots, which can form from pooled blood in a section of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA).

To prevent clots, Young took blood thinner medications. Blood thinners come with side effects, though. "I would have bloody noses when I woke up in the morning," he said.

Eventually, Young sought cardiovascular care close to home in Gladwin. At MyMichigan Medical Offices Gladwin, he was under the care of Interventional Cardiologist Maged Rizk, M.D., Ph.D. Young was immediately reassured by Dr. Rizk's friendly demeanor. "With Dr. Rizk, everything was a discussion," he said. The same went for the rest of the staff, who also had caring, supportive attitudes.

Dr. Rizk uncovered a defect in Young's aortic valve, leaving it barely able to open and close. After discussing his options, Young was scheduled to undergo a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) to have a functional valve inserted in place of the defective one.

The procedure came just in time as Young nearly didn't make it to his appointment. The night before it was scheduled to take place, he became so out of breath he could hardly walk into the kitchen, and at one point he passed out completely. An ambulance was called and he was stabilized, after which he made it to his appointment the next morning.

With top-notch execution from every member of the team, Young's TAVR procedure went smoothly. He said the most uncomfortable part was the breathing tube in his throat. "As soon as they pulled that out, I could catch my breath," he said. "I could breathe in and out and fill my lungs." It was a wonderful feeling he had not experienced in some time.

During his consultations with Dr. Rizk, Young had also learned about a newer procedure called the Watchman, which closes off the LAA. This substantially reduces risks of clots and stroke. Young was scheduled for this procedure, but suffered a heart attack. Dr. Rizk inserted stents and opened a major coronary artery back up. This artery was the one that Young had undergone open-heart surgery to bypass years before, when his previous care team declared it no longer functional. "Dr. Rizk has saved me a couple of times when others had given up," he said.

A few months later, Young underwent the Watchman implant procedure. Due to the complexity of the TAVR and Watchman procedures, they require the involvement of a multi-disciplinary team of specialists. For the Watchman procedure, these specialists included an interventional cardiologist, an electrophysiologist, and a cardiac imaging specialist. Each physician performed their unique roles expertly, and helped Young through a speedy recovery to return home after just three days. "I didn't experience any issues," he said.

For now, Young and his wife remain optimistic for a quieter, healthier life in the near future. "I'm getting better all the time," he said. "I've been very happy with the quality heart care I've received."

Those who would like to learn more about the TAVR procedure may visit www.mymichigan.org/heartvalveclinic. Those who would like more information on the Watchman Implant procedure may visit www.mymichigan.org/watchman.