Mitral Valve Prolapse: Benign Syndrome?
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by Sharon Anderson-Alter
Description: Sharon Anderson explores Mitral Valve Prolapse, a syndrome that has puzzled many for decades, and sheds light on a disease that affects so many and is addressed too little. The symptoms of the disease are not dissimilar from those of other ailments: palpitations, fainting, fatigue, shortness of breath, migraine headaches, chest pain, episodes of extremely rapid or irregular heartbeat, dizziness and lightheadedness. This makes diagnosing this disease more challenging, but Anderson explains why this disease should not go unnoticed. In her comprehensive study, she reveals the facts about this disease in hopes to help others prevent the complications associated with it.
eBook Publisher: E-Reads, 2004
eBookwise Release Date: October 2004
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [961 KB]
Reading time: 609-852 min.
Drawing on her craft as a novelist, Sharon Anderson weaves the story of her personal experience with Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP) and one of its complications (infective endocarditis) into an exciting tale which holds the attention of the reader from chapter to chapter. Some physicians would have us believe mitral valve prolapse is overdiagnosed while others believe it is underdiagnosed. This book carries a strong message, a lesson to be remembered by physicians, that, if a patient has a condition or disease, no matter how common or uncommon it is, it may markedly alter their health status and quality of life.
In her book, Sharon provides us with some unique insights into this oft misunderstood and even maligned malady. Her personal experience with this common and usually benign condition reminds us there is a spectrum of severity with all conditions and illnesses. That there is sex bias within the medical profession and that women's complaints are often viewed as psychiatric in origin are frequent complaints of the female patient. Some physicians may well view Sharon's odyssey to find answers as neurotic doctor shopping. However, reading this book will reveal such is far from the case, that it, in fact, became necessary for her to pursue the medical care she instinctively knew was necessary for her survival. Close scrutiny of her frightening observations and experience helps us to understand the multi-faceted nature of the patient-doctor relationship and why it is that women make these complaints. Sometimes directly and sometimes by intimation, she reveals those less than admirable traits of some whose names are followed by "M.D", such as the reluctance to accept data, information or observations from patients or others (nurses or techs) The noted Canadian physician, Sir William Osler reminded physicians nearly a century ago that we should "Listen to the patient. He's giving you the diagnosis."
With passion and deep commitment to sharing her experience and knowledge with the public and professionals alike, Sharon takes us on a journey where we become witnesses to the metamorphosis of a frightened, bewildered patient into the author who chronicles her illness in a well-documented fashion. She articulately describes the natural history of her own experience with the mitral valve prolapse syndrome and her development of infective endocarditis even while under medical (albeit blunted) scrutiny. She discovers other less virtuous traits in some of her physician encounters when her questions and concerns were met with disinterest, lack of compassion and even hostility and termination of caregiving on the part of her physicians. Apart from these disturbing insights into the patient/physician relationship, altered by an obscure and difficult diagnostic problem, she describes the fascinating journey through the circulatory system from a patient's viewpoint. To describe her as a layperson would not be appropriate since her thirst to define her own illness extended to include a bibliography of over 500 articles and books.
From the perspective of one not associated with the medical profession, Sharon offers us valuable insights about ourselves as physicians, our relationships with our support people (nurses, technologists, aides, secretaries, etc.) and the interaction of this total medical complex with that necessary component which drives it, namely, the patient. In this time of increased awareness of the cardiovascular health problems of women, hers is yet another female cry in the wilderness that must be heard. She movingly contrasts the plight of the female patient, wanting to participate in her care, with that of a male patient, another layperson, Norman Cousins, whose input was welcomed by medical professionals, and who was, in his own words, in "Anatomy of an Illness", a "respected partner" in his care.
Physicians who observe multiple patients with a disease process are often able to document and describe the illness, do statistical research and educate other professionals. However, frequently, the psychosocial impact on patients and their perceptions and understanding regarding the disease are minimized or not addressed at all. Sharon points to a new kind of relationship, a sharing one, between the patient and the physician. A sharing of wisdom that is necessary to the healing process. If the patient is perceptive, some of his/her wisdom and knowledge of a given illness or condition can become a window that fully rounds out our understanding of a disease process.
This book is important to the public and professionals alike. Physicians who are in primary care medicine would be well advised to read it to better understand the often bizarre and unusual, but real, symptoms which are experienced by the large number of patients who have this condition and whom they may unknowingly encounter daily in their practice.
Some patients with mitral valve prolapse may be further frightened by her story and will require a compassionate physician to put it into proper perspective. Conversely, those who are not intimidated and those who have faced an illness will find many descriptions which often fit their own symptoms or experiences and thus this book will serve a very therapeutic, supportive and reassuring purpose.
In conclusion, it is hoped Sharon's book will have a significant impact on the understanding and prevention of complications related to heart disease and, in particular, to MVP. It is also hoped that its insights, not only into the disease process and its testing procedures but into the patient-physician relationship, will have a substantial effect on the reduction of healthcare costs.
Dr. Walt Weaver,
Clinical Professor of Medicine,
University of Nebraska. "