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In January 2020 I went in for a routine physical. The doctor, after listening to my heart, asked whether I knew that I had a heart murmur. It was news to me. Within a week I had an echocardiogram—a heart ultrasound—which revealed that I had moderate aortic valve stenosis without symptoms. The valve was narrowed by calcium leached from my bones in a process known as arteriosclerosis. In January 2023, I had a second ultrasound. This revealed that I now had severe aortic stenosis. Still no symptoms.

The chief UCSF cardiothoracic surgeon contacted me to set up a zoom conference call. In that call I heard the grim-faced surgeon tell me I had to have an aortic valve replacement because I was at risk for sudden death. While the risk of dying was about three percent, I was still frightened.

During the workup for the valve replacement, it was discovered that the artery that supplies over half of the blood to my heart muscle was eighty percent clogged. A stent fished through the artery remedied that additional problem. The aortic valve was removed and replaced by minimally invasive surgery.

Now one-year post valve replacement I am doing well. I now have much more energy. My blood pressure is greatly reduced. I walk two miles each day and watch my diet by avoiding sugar, red meat, dairy or salt. I eat a lot of broccoli, oatmeal and salmon and drink green tea.

My advice is this: Get a physical once a year; Exercise regularly; and eat lots of fruits and vegetables.