Vital response: Why one family is especially grateful for TMC’s cardiac services

Nadine Huddleston TMC TAVR patient

Nadine Huddleston
TMC TAVR patient

When Nadine Huddleston was diagnosed with aortic stenosis 15 years ago, she didn’t think much of it.  She was pretty tired, but chalked it up to old age.  “My pastor told me, ‘Nadine – no one ever died from a heart murmur,’” she said.  Aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic-valve opening that restricts normal blood flow to the entire body.  It can cause heart failure and shortness of breath.  It’s a common public heart problem affecting millions of people in the U.S.  And it can be fatal.

Sure, she thought about getting it fixed.  But that’s where it stopped.  “I asked my doctor what he would have to do to fix it, and he said they’d have to cut me open.  I was not about to have that done,” she said. 

In August of 2013, as she was preparing for knee surgery, her cardiologist grew increasingly concerned.  The surgery would have to wait.  Her aortic stenosis had gone from bad to worse.  Luckily for Huddleston, medicine had really advanced.  Open chest surgery was no longer the only way to treat her condition.  “I was between a rock and a hard place because I wanted to do it, but I was frightened.  So when I found out they could take care of the problem without cutting me open, I was all for it,” she said. 

Tucson Medical Center is one of 250 sites in the country to offer the transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR.  During the procedure, physicians replace the valve by placing catheters in a patient’s groin or under their breast, instead of opening up the chest. 

Huddleston had her surgery in February of 2014.

Gary & Kathie Brauchla

Gary & Kathie Brauchla

At 85 years old, she describes her quality of life as “pretty good.”  For her family, it was the second big bullet they managed to dodge the past couple of years.  Huddleston’s son-in-law, Gary Brauchla, suffered cardiac arrest in his sleep.  His wife, Kathie, performed CPR, saving his life.  Brauchla ran a 5k eight months later, and has made it his mission to spread awareness about the importance of CPR and AED training.  He also visits cardiac patients at TMC who are just starting their journey, and is very active with TMC’s cardiac rehabilitation.

Huddleston is taking it easy, and will start cardiac rehabilitation when her cardiologist decides the time is right.  And when she does, she’ll have at least one familiar face there to walk her through it.

 
Please click here to read more about TMC’s Structural Heart Program including the remarkable story of Bill Marvin, one of TMC’s first TAVR patients.

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Rd. | Tucson, AZ 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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