• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: A personalized approach to heart health

July 15, 2018

Heather Lister knew she had an abnormal heart valve. What she didn't know was that this defect put her at risk for a much more serious problem. But her Mayo Clinic care team gave her the information she needed to make a decision on the best way forward.

When she was born, Heather Lister had a heart murmur. At 28, she also learned she had a bicuspid aortic valve — a common congenital heart defect where the valve has two tissue flaps, or cusps, rather than the usual three.

After Heather received the diagnosis, the Jacksonville, Florida, real estate agent had regular cardiac checkups for years without issue. Many people with a bicuspid aortic valve aren't affected by valve problems until they're adults, and some may not be affected until they're older adults.

When she turned 40, Heather — who went to the gym at least five days a week — began noticing some changes. "I felt tired. I couldn't catch my breath. I just didn't feel right," she says.

Heather's community cardiologist told her everything was fine, and advised her to come back for another checkup in two years. Still uneasy, Heather called Mayo Clinic for a second opinion. In November 2016, she met with Carolyn Landolfo, M.D., a cardiologist who specializes in women's heart health.

She soon found out that her decision to get a second opinion would have lasting repercussions. Learn more about Heather's story.

Watch: A personalized approach to heart health.

This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.