After delaying heart surgery for years, Cypress woman finally ‘got her life back’

Years after being diagnosed with a heart murmur and irregular heartbeat, Nalinthil Fetters began to experience shortness of breath and fatigue.

She saw a cardiologist in Tomball, Dr. Daljit Muttiana, after moving to Texas. Fetters planned to eventually fix the issue, putting it on the back burner for now.

Then COVID-19 came to the Greater Houston area in 2020.

“COVID came and I stopped doing a lot of things,” the Cypress resident said.

“The second year of COVID in the spring around this time, I have really bad allergies and then it started to get really bad. I felt more dizzy, wasn’t breathing properly, had real shortness of breath and then my vision started to get blurry.

After digging into the issue with HCA Houston, Fetters said Dr. Pranav Loyalka found an atrial septal defect in his heart, which means there was a hole between the upper left and right chambers of his heart.

Dr. Carlos Encarnacion, an interventional cardiologist with HCA who operated on Fetters, said Fetters’ condition had worsened over the years with signs such as shortness of breath. Although the problem was already serious, Encarnacion said Fetters would have ended up with overt heart failure within two years.

“She had recently had a pregnancy that made her a little more symptomatic than she would have been in the long term,” Encarnacion said. “The downfall of this condition is, if you can imagine, its shunt, which is what we call moving blood from the left side to the right side of the heart, taking oxygenated blood and putting it into the side deoxygenated. But, these long-term patients, if they’re not fixed, that changes. You start to see deoxygenated blood flowing into the side of the heart that should be oxygenated and the patient becomes hypoxic or has low oxygen.

For the surgery, Encarnacion said he originally wanted to go the percutaneous route, penetrating Fetters’ skin to reach his heart for minimal invasion. After further examination, Encarnacion made an incision under Fetters’ breast, causing minimal healing and recovery time compared to more invasive procedures.

“The recovery is less due to the approach I used than it would have been if someone had their sternum split down the middle,” Encarnacion said. “It’s basically an incision I made instead, but instead of doing anything with her breasts, I went between her ribs and went straight to her heart with this approach.”

Fetters was discharged from the hospital three days after her operation. Although she was afraid of the operation, thinking she might have to open her sternum, Fetters said she was impressed with the modern technology used by HCA and other hospitals in the modern age.

“Doctors can do a very good job and you can recover very quickly,” she said. “I have told all my friends that I am grateful to live this year which has very good technology for surgery. The surgery cup is very small. I am very happy. I am a woman, I do not don’t want to have the big scar on my body. The doctor did pretty well.

Encarnacion said Fetters may have had a heart condition since birth, an even bigger reason for people to see their practitioner or doctor, especially if they’re feeling shortness of breath or increasing fatigue.

“I always warn my patients that I know COVID is happening, but as long as you take precautions and have been vaccinated, you cannot postpone your health visits,” she said. “If we find something early enough, we can take care of it before the effects of this disease are too distant or our options are no longer limited.”

After avoiding the problem for years, in part due to COVID-19, Fetters felt better than ever after the operation, able to get on her platoon and go on vacation with her husband a month after the surgery. transaction.

She has one regret: not having been operated on sooner.

“As time goes by and your symptoms get stronger and stronger, I stopped caring about COVID and knew I had to go (to the doctor),” she said. “I thought I was too young. I thought maybe I was fine and didn’t need surgery. I thought I could wait a few years, or 10 or 20 years. I’m very happy that I decided to have the surgery. I got my life back.”

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