For a Seattle man, TAVR comes to the rescue

Seattle native Tom Ruttkay knew that he needed to pay close attention to his heart. About a decade ago, he experienced atrial fibrillation — a quivering or irregular heartbeat. He’s been on medication to control it ever since. But when the 77-year-old former University of Washington rowing champion noticed a significant lack of energy last year, he made an appointment with his Kaiser Permanente cardiologist, Timothy Dewhurst, MD.

Dr. Dewhurst performed an echocardiogram, which led to a surprising discovery: Calcium had built up on a valve in Ruttkay’s heart, causing it to malfunction. “It wasn’t pushing blood through my body as it should,” he says. “I could feel my heart really pounding hard.”

That valve needed to be replaced.

Not long ago, Ruttkay would have faced full, open-heart surgery and the prospect of a weeklong hospital stay. But thanks to the minimally invasive transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure he

Read More

Tuesday’s Primary Elections Risk Coronavirus Chaos

But there’s simply not enough time for the states that vote Tuesday to make major adjustments, or switch to a vote-by-mail system, election experts say.

State election officials are trying to make the best of a difficult situation. They’ve encouraged people to send in absentee ballots through the mail. But in the four states that vote Tuesday, the deadline to request an absentee ballot has already passed. The next-best option, then, is for people to vote early at designated sites at some point before Tuesday, although if enough people show up at these early-voting sites, that would carry risks, too. While the early-voting period has ended in Arizona, this is still an option for people in Illinois, Ohio, and Florida.

Election officials expect that some regular voters will not show up on Tuesday, for fear of contracting the virus. But they still expect that many people—millions of

Read More

After 2 open-heart surgeries, a new procedure helps a Gig Harbor man avoid a third

Many of us would consider open-heart surgery a once-in-a-lifetime event, but at 50, Marv Johnson had already undergone 2 open-heart surgeries. And, in early 2019, he was facing the prospect of a third.

Johnson was born with a malformed aortic valve. Instead of 3 flaps that join together to close and keep blood from flowing in the wrong direction, Johnson had only 2. His Kaiser Permanente doctors had been keeping an eye on it since he was born.

Open-heart surgery – twice

When Johnson was 30, doctors discovered his aortic valve was failing and needed to be replaced. His only option: full open-heart surgery. He spent 2 weeks in the hospital and several months regaining his strength.

Doctors told Johnson the replacement valve would last 10 to 15 years at most. So, it wasn’t a surprise when, 8 years later, Johnson again needed open-heart surgery to replace it. This time

Read More

The Coronavirus Makes Politics Look Small

If the worst fears are realized, the scale of the health and economic challenges posed by the coronavirus may well dwarf Brexit. Although the hardest of Brexits available, in which Britain and the EU fail to agree on a trade deal by the end of the year, is forecast to cause a recession, the mainstream view is that most other scenarios largely involve bargains of greater British autonomy in exchange for lower rates of economic growth. Take one example: On Monday, The Guardian published a story claiming that Britain leaving the Erasmus student-exchange program would “blow a hole” in its economy. What size hole, one might ask? About £243 million, or $315 million, a year—a tiny fraction of Britain’s £2.8 trillion economy. Equally, the British government estimates that the economic benefit of a trade deal with the United States—the big prize after Brexit—would amount to just

Read More