ACC Instructor Finds Heart Problem in Volunteer
When Judy Scott discovered that Alvin Community College was looking for volunteers to help students perform cardiovascular scans, she decided to sign up.
The Alvin woman has volunteered before and went in for a scan again recently in the spring.
“I knew it was a good service,” she said. “It’s good for them to learn.”
The tests involve scans over vessels and or the heart to find issues with the blood vessels, the heart walls, chambers, or valves.
DCVS instructor Jessica Murphy was working with student Stacie Thompson that day while they performed the scan on Scott. Murphy said she found something on the monitor that revealed a potentially serious problem for Scott.
“You could see something was wrong with the mitral valve. A piece of it, called the chordae tendineae or heart strings, had broken loose causing wide open mitral regurgitation,” Murphy said.
Murphy and the student saw that a large amount of blood was flowing the wrong way through Scott’s mitral valve.
“You’re not getting blood to the body like you’re supposed to and blood also backs up into the lungs instead of moving forward,” she said. “Luckily, we caught it very early.”
Scott said she lately had felt light-headed and was easily fatigued before she received the scan at ACC. These are common symptoms of problems with the mitral valve but they could also be due to many other potential issues. That is why it is important to also see your doctor as well, said Murphy.
“I was just not myself,” Scott said. “I did not have a lot of energy.”
After the scan was completed, Murphy recommended that Scott see a physician, which initially reported that there wasn’t an issue. Murphy requested that she seek a second opinion because the problem was evident to the faculty and student at the college. The mitral valve problem discovered by Murphy was confirmed through a second opinion.
ACC regularly seeks volunteers for vascular scans. Students perform the scans while they are observed by an instructor. The practice scans are an important part of the students’ education.
The scans are for practice only, and it is not intended to be used for any diagnostic purposes. There are times when the students and instructors do notice a problem, but the volunteers must visit a doctor to confirm the issue.
Scott is looking to participate in a research study being conducted in the Texas Medical Center that would be able to repair her mitral valve with a clip that is inserted through the artery in the groin. This new procedure does not require open heart surgery and is a less invasive option to repair the torn mitral valve.
She feels that if she had not received the scan at ACC, it would not have been discovered until the condition became more severe. Murphy’s insistence on a second opinion also was vital to getting the help she needed, Scott said.
“Had she not suggested I get a second opinion, I would not have sought one out,” she said.
For more information about the DCVS program, call 281-756-5625 or visit www.alvincollege.edu/dcvs.