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1940 Blairs Ferry Rd.
Hiawatha, IA 52233

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New Heart Valve Without Open Heart Surgery

by -

Roger Kromminga in his garden.

Photo: Roger Kromminga, 70, recently received a MitraClip to repair his heart's leaking mitral valve. 

It’s been a year since Roger Kromminga, 70, found out he had stage 4 prostate cancer. Last spring, he saw his doctor for what he thought were symptoms of COVID-19, and test results led to the discovery of cancer. He’s now in remission, but at his final chemotherapy visit, he mentioned having trouble catching his breath, and his legs were swollen. The nurse also noticed he had an irregular heartbeat. 

“Toward the end of my cancer treatments, I suddenly started retaining fluid, and I could hardly walk the 80 yards to my mailbox without stopping to rest,” Kromminga said. From oncology, Kromminga was promptly taken to St. Luke’s Heart Care Clinic to meet with Cardiologist Boothapuri Venkatesh, MD, who discovered a problem with one of Kromminga’s heart valves and immediately involved the interventional cardiology team.

“Roger was admitted to the hospital with congestive heart failure, due to a severely leaky mitral valve,” explained Aref Bin Abdulhak, MD, St.Luke’s interventional and structural cardiologist. “The mitral valve connects the left upper chamber of the heart to the left lower chamber, and the leak was responsible for his heart failure symptoms.

“Additional tests showed the valve had degenerative changes that caused it to leak,” Dr. Bin Abdulhak continued. “The first option in this situation would normally be open heart surgery but given the comorbidity of his prostate cancer, he was deemed high-risk, so we recommended the MitraClip.”

An alternative to open-heart surgery, MitraClip is performed via catheter through a vein in the groin to deliver the device to the heart. The clip is attached to the two leaflets of the mitral valve, helping them close more completely and reduce the amount of blood flowing backward into the lungs. The MitraClip procedure improves patient survival and quality of life as demonstrated by large and well-conducted clinical trials.

“With MitraClip, we didn’t have to open his chest,” said Dr. Bin Abdulhak. “We were able to dramatically improve his quality of life with this procedure. He was able to go home in few days (most patients are able to go home the next day) and he had less recovery time than would have been required with open heart surgery.”

Kromminga participated in Cardiac Rehab at UnityPoint Health - Jones Regional Medical Center following his procedure and has since graduated. He’s thankful for the level of care he received from St. Luke’s heart team, and he’s been able to return to most of his normal activities.

“I’m glad they caught my heart problem and I had the procedure done,” Kromminga said. “I’m a pretty active person. I really enjoy being outside, working on my tractors and gardening. I also own a 20-acre timber with my brother, so I’m often out cutting lumber and building things for my kids. The MitraClip has made a world of difference in helping me get back to the things I enjoy.”

St. Luke’s is the only hospital in Cedar Rapids that offers MitraClip. It is one of the many advanced procedures St. Luke’s Heart Care experts have pioneered in the area, so there’s no need to travel out of town. More people choose St. Luke’s because of its long legacy as the Heart Hospital. Experience matters, which is why St. Luke’s is the best place for heart care. For more information about St. Luke’s Heart Care, visit UnityPoint.org/CedarRapids/Heart.

To schedule an appointment with a cardiologist, call St. Luke’s Heart Care Clinic at (319) 364-7101.