A patient’s diagnosis with heart valve disease

I met a lovely lady in pre-assessment clinic at St Thomas’ hospital. Lily* is a very fit lady, in her mid-60s, who with hindsight first noticed pain in the left side of her jaw while running marathons a year ago.

She developed a virus in January this year and was unable to run in the London marathon. She continued to do regular Park Runs, however she was becoming more short of breath when running and her times, which had been very competitive, were increasing. Lily initially put this down to her age. She developed a cough and consulted her GP who listened to her chest with a stethoscope, noticed a heart murmur and referred her for tests, including an echocardiogram (specialist ultrasound looking at heart valves). This showed that Lily has severe aortic stenosis.

Lily’s GP referred her to a Consultant Cardiologist who assessed her, and explained that she would require an operation to replace her aortic valve to solve this. Additionally, an extra test would be needed before she was seen by a Consultant Surgeon, a coronary angiogram, a specialised procedure, carried out by a Cardiologist whereby radio opaque dye is injected to the coronary arteries and imaging is recorded. This is to check for any blockages or narrowing in the coronary arteries which would require treatment at the same time as the aortic valve surgery. The Consultant advised Lily that her coronary arteries were normal. She was pleased with this as she has looked after herself, is very fit, normal weight and never smoked.

At her pre-assessment clinic appointment Lily described her current symptoms which included occasional chest pain, some shortness of breath on walking on inclines, intermittent dizziness after a long run and on standing up quickly, from sitting. She told us that she was still competing in Park Runs and was really keen to remain active and continue this. All her observations and blood tests were within the normal range. Lily had another echocardiogram at St Thomas’ which confirmed severe aortic stenosis and an electrocardiogram (ECG) which showed a slow normal heart rate, often associated with athletes.

Lily saw the Consultant Surgeon who explained in detail that she would require aortic valve surgery to enable her to return to her formal fitness, relieve her symptoms and protect her in the future. He talked her through the procedure, types of valves, expected recovery time in hospital and at home. Lily signed the first part of the consent form for aortic valve replacement, choosing a tissue valve. She asked if she could continue the Park Runs and was advised that she could continue running gently or walking the course, as long as she did not develop further symptoms. These include: chest pain, increased shortness of breath, dizziness and or fainting. They are an indication of worsening valve disease. If this happens she was advised to inform us or in an emergency, call an ambulance.

She went home with information on having heart surgery and my contact details for any further questions.

In my next blog I will talk about Lily’s post-operative journey.

You can find out more information about heart valve disease on the Heart Valve Voice website which I support in various projects.

*The name used in this blog has been substituted for confidentially reasons – I refer to the patient here as Lily.


Have you got a health question?

We've teamed up with AXA PPP healthcare to bring you articles, information and tips from their clinical teams on a wide range of health topics. And if you have a question of your own, their, "Ask the Expert" service allows you to ask the team of friendly, experienced nurses, pharmacists and midwives about any health topic and they'll get back to you with an answer as soon as they’re able.* So if you have something that’s been bothering you, whether it concerns you or someone close to you, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Click below to submit your query online.


* Nurses are available 24/7, 365 days a year. Midwives and pharmacists are available Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm; Saturday, 8am to 4pm; and Sunday, 8am to 12pm.
Actual response time will depend on the nature of your enquiry and availability of appropriately qualified experts but the team will always aim to get back to you within 24 hours.
Please note that our Expert Help services are there to offer health information and support. They do not diagnose or prescribe, and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice given in the context of an individual consultation.


The following two tabs change content below.
Mother of three grown-up daughters I am the ultimate multi-tasker and am passionate about my role as Silversurfers Website Editor and Social Media Manager. Always on the lookout for all things that will interest and entertain our community. Fueling fun for the young at heart!

Latest posts by Sally - Silversurfer's Editor (see all)

Leave a Comment!

Not a member?

You need to be a member to interact with Silversurfers. Joining is free and simple to do. Click the button below to join today!

Click here if you have forgotten your password

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!