Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - 50

W

hen Eric Koontz went
to his doctor in March
2013, he thought he had
a bad cold or the flu. In
his early 30s then, Koontz was shocked
when the doctor detected a heart murmur (unusual heartbeat) and referred
him to a cardiologist near his home in
Lynchburg, Virginia.
"I had no physical symptoms and
was trail running fairly consistently at
the time," says Koontz, a pastor and
middle school director at Blue Ridge
Community Church in Forest, Virginia.
Koontz was diagnosed with mitral
valve prolapse (MVP). This meant he
had a malfunctioning valve that allows
blood to flow from the heart's upper
chamber to lower chamber.
Many people who have MVP have no
symptoms or complications and don't
need surgery. But in some, including
Koontz, blood may leak in the wrong
direction as the heart pumps. This can
lead to shortness of breath, chest discomfort and irregular heartbeat. Left
untreated, severe leakage can cause
weakening of the heart muscle or blood
clots to form, raising the risk for stroke.

50

SUMM ER 2 0 1 7

Though Koontz's valve leak was
considered moderate at the time
of his diagnosis, he began noticing
changes in his physical endurance
by that fall. A Lynchburg cardiologist
determined that his valve leak had
progressed and eventually he'd need
open-heart surgery.

Divine Intervention

Koontz decided to go to UVA Heart &
Vascular Center for a second opinion. He
and his wife, Mary, met with UVA thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon Gorav
Ailawadi, MD, for over an hour discussing his test results, treatment options
and recovery times. Ailawadi put the couple at ease, assuring them that Koontz's
heart valve likely could be treated with
a minimally invasive procedure. Deeply
devout in their Christian faith, the couple consider Ailawadi a godsend.
"It just so happened that Dr. Ailawadi
was the only doctor who could see us
the first day, and that was really cool
because we had been praying a lot that
God would put us in contact with the
right person at the right time," Koontz
says. "He covered all of our questions

patiently, and he just made us feel really
at peace. I feel God opened that door for
us to meet with him. The whole thing
couldn't have gone any better. Everyone
at UVA was top-notch."

Follow Your Heart

Although more common among older
people, valve disease can happen at
any age. Ailawadi was able to repair
Koontz's mitral valve by accessing the
area through a 2-inch incision made
between the ribs. Koontz was driving
and active in two weeks and fully recovered in eight weeks. And it wasn't long
before he was pushing himself-and
his heart-to the limit by completing a
challenging Spartan race and a Tough
Mudder military-style obstacle course.
Ailawadi isn't surprised by Koontz's
full recovery. "Our specialists are
nationally recognized for their expertise in treating patients who have valve
disease and are committed to determining the best treatment for each patient,"
Ailawadi says. "This personalized
approach gives patients the best chance
of returning to their normal activities
with the quickest recovery." n



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia

Contents
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - Contents
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - 2
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - 3
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - 4
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - 5
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Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - 49
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - 50
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Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - 55
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - 56
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - Cover3
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - Cover4
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