Straight From the Heart

4 | STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART | JANUARY 2022 At UPMC Harrisburg, a minimally invasive mitral valve procedure offers patients an alternative to open heart surgery. ❯❯ A 21-year-old college student planning her wedding and an active 67-year-old dairy farmer both needed heart surgery to repair a severe mitral valve leak — a condition that can lead to heart failure if left untreated. Mubashir Mumtaz, MD , chief of cardiothoracic surgery at UPMC Harrisburg, specializes in minimally invasive cardiovascular procedures, including complex valve procedures, performing nearly 150 mitral valve repairs each year. The heart’s mitral valve is located between the upper and lower chambers of the heart. It operates like a one-way gate to stop blood from flowing the wrong way. When the valve doesn’t work right, blood can leak back into the chambers. Instead of the traditional open-chest surgery in which the sternum is divided or “cracked” open, Dr. Mumtaz performs an intercostal surgical valve repair (iSVR). “I use a small incision on the right side of the chest and avoid cracking the sternum. Despite the difference in each patient’s story, the minimally invasive approach allows for each patient to return to their passions much quicker,” says Dr. Mumtaz. Ceirra’s Story Ceirra Moss, an Albright College biology major, was making wedding plans when she noticed worrisome symptoms — heart palpitations, fatigue, and shortness of breath. At age 14, she survived a heart attack caused by a blood clot that traveled through a hole in her heart. “I know my body and I knew something was wrong,” says Ceirra. The Ephrata, Pa., resident made an appointment with Scott Riebel, MD , a cardiologist at UPMC Lititz, who detected a loud heart murmur. An echocardiogram confirmed she had severe mitral valve regurgitation, and he referred her to Dr. Mumtaz for surgery. Ceirra, who underwent surgery in February 2021, was relieved that Dr. Mumtaz could perform iSVR surgery without cracking her sternum and repair the valve without replacing it — a better long-term option, especially for a young person. An animal tissue valve would only last 10 to 15 years. A mechanical valve would require blood thinners and prevent her from having children. “With this procedure, we are hopeful that she may never need another heart surgery, while have a chance at starting a family and enjoying her marriage,” says Dr. Mumtaz. Vince’s Story Vince Lobaugh felt lightheaded and weak at times, but he chalked it up to age and the more than 12 hours a day spent working on his family farm in Aspers, Pa. After cutting his finger badly, a hospital visit revealed a concern that he never knew existed. Since he hadn’t been to a doctor in nearly 14 years, the nurse practitioner insisted on doing a physical and during the routine exam detected abnormal heart sounds. Tests later confirmed he had severe mitral valve prolapse, causing Vince’s heart to pump twice as much blood as normal. When Vince met with Dr. Mumtaz, he was relieved to hear the iSVR procedure would get him back on his feet sooner. “Everything he said made sense to me. When he explained that my heart was overworked and couldn’t keep pumping that volume of blood, I knew I had to take steps to ensure my family could count on me on the farm for many more years” says Vince. Vince underwent surgery in November 2020 — after the late summer harvest season. Today, he says, “I’m stronger, I breathe better, and I can do more than I did a year ago. I feel good.” Regardless of whether you are feeling simple fatigue or shortness of breath, or notice the littlest signs that something that doesn’t feel right, these symptoms could be the first indication that a routine screening or checkup with your family physician or cardiologist may be needed. For more information about cardiology services and convenient locations near you at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute in Central Pa., visit , or call 717-731-0101 . MENDING HEARTS WithMinimally Invasive Surgery