DUBAI 7 February 2019: Sheena Joseph, a pregnant mother of three children, was facing breathing difficulties as a result of an unusual form of heart disease (Rheumatic Valvular Mitral Stenosis).
Sheena was referred to Zulekha Hospital and underwent a high risk, invasive heart procedure required to save her life.
The patient had suffered with Rheumatic fever as a child. This fever can damage body tissues by causing them to swell, but its greatest danger lies in the damage it can do to the heart. This fever resulted in the increasingly uncommon condition, Rheumatic Valvular Mitral Stenosis, which causes the valves to narrow and does not allow the blood to flow freely from the lungs to the body, making one tired and short of breath, among other issues.
Thirty-nine-year old Sheena, was 30 weeks pregnant (third trimester) at the time she faced the breathing difficulties which further complicated the problem. Dr. Anil Bansal, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist commented: “During the third trimester there is an increase of blood volume which can compromise the vital lung capacity. This must be treated before pregnancy or at the most in the second trimester, however, in this case the patient was referred to us at a very late stage.”
Opened Heart Valve
The patient was taken for a Balloon Mitral Valvotomy as this successfully opened the narrowed valve to improve the function of the heart and enable her immediate relief.
Rheumatic fever has dramatically decreased in developed countries due to the availability and easy access to great healthcare systems. Studies in the past have highlighted that there is a higher incidence of Rheumatic fever in the Middle East and Asia than in other parts of the world.
“For patients who are suffering from similar issues, it is vital that this should be treated before pregnancy as the risks become higher for both mother and child,” continued Dr. Bansal.
Sheena added: “I had been suffering with the problem for over six years and finally I was directed to the right expert who really helped, despite my pregnancy. It was difficult but I was confident that we were in safe hands. My family and I are very grateful to the capable team at Zulekha Hospital who accepted to do the procedure and managed it well. We did not have to travel out of the country and this was a saving grace.”
Sheena has now been removed from all medicines previously take for heart problems and only needs to return for a yearly Echocardiogram – heart ultrasound. There is a less than a 5% chance of the problem reoccurring over the next 20 years.