This past April, the discovery of a heart murmur brought Clyde Erb of Kidron to Mercy Cardiovascular Institute (MCI), where his cardiologist uncovered a damaged aortic heart valve. For Clyde, a congenial, outgoing man who loves to travel with his wife Joann, the diagnosis was yet another challenge among the many health problems he’s faced throughout his lifetime.
During childhood, Clyde contracted rheumatic fever (RF), an infection caused by group A Streptococcus and, at one time, a leading cause of death worldwide in people ages 5 to 20. His brother survived three bouts of it but died at age 41.
Clyde believes RF left him with weakened lungs—which worsened as an adult with on-the-job exposure to dust, chemicals, and other particles—and also affected his heart. He began oxygen therapy 18 years ago and started using a CPAP in 2016. The identification of rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes (now controlled) further complicated things.
“I’ve had previous heart problems requiring emergency fluid drainage and heart catheterization,” he says. “I even spent three days in hospital in Reno, Nev., in 2001 when a trip to Montana and some high-altitude walking brought on shortness of breath. Over the years, I’ve struggled with feeling tired a lot, but, of course, I didn’t realize I had a damaged heart valve.”
To repair the valve, Clyde recently underwent transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) at Mercy, a minimally invasive procedure that involves putting a replacement valve into the damaged aortic valve’s place without removing it. The night of the procedure, he was able to sleep without the CPAP for the first time in two years.
The day after, just before being discharged home, Clyde humorously says, “I feel 20 again, and that could be dangerous.” Although semi-retired, he is anxious to get back to work as a driver for members of the Amish community near Kidron and excited to travel as much as possible. He and Joann, who have two children and two grandchildren, will soon fly to Florida for another trip to Disney World.
Clyde says, “I was very impressed by my entire experience at Mercy. My doctors and nurses were excellent, and it also felt good to be able to talk about my faith openly here. My hope is now I will be less tired and maybe even able reduce my need for oxygen.”