Being a little short of breath during a Taekwondo match could prove to be dangerous. For Barry Linehan, a black belt in martial arts, it was, at the very least, out of the ordinary. However, when the 48-year-old noticed his shortness of breath, he thought perhaps he was just getting out of shape.
A physician assistant with Family Medicine-Spokane, Barry discovered he had a heart problem that needed addressing when he was trying out a new stethoscope on himself.
“I knew I had mitral valve prolapse in the past,” says Barry. “But what I was hearing this time was different.”
He confirmed the diagnosis (mitral valve regurgitation) with a physician and had an echocardiogram. That test also detected pulmonary hypertension, which, his doctor said could lead to congestive heart failure and recommended that he talk to Leland Siwek, MD about minimally-invasive surgery.
“I was all in favor of minimally-invasive surgery,” says Barry.
In just over a month, Barry Linehan was practicing martial arts again.
He had his procedure in November 2004, and went home three days afterward. Within a week, he was walking a mile a day and by two weeks, was up to three miles—plus, he was back at work. It was just over a month before Barry was doing martial arts again.
“I was pleased with that,” he says. “I was able to keep up pretty well … about as well as before the surgery and with less shortness of breath.”
“My recovery time was drastically different than if I had had the standard surgery. I was up and moving around. It was just a matter of being careful, not to be too hard on the small soft-tissue incisions on the right side of my chest. There’s a big difference between that and trying to get back to normal after having your chest cracked open.”
Barry adds, “For me as an active, 48-year-old guy, I was able to return to my normal routine in an extraordinarily fast amount of time.”