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Doc Talk: Passion for racing is driving heart patient's drive to recovery

Doc Talk: Passion for racing is driving heart patient's drive to recovery. (WWMT/Patrick Hagan)

At 62-years-old, Ed Magner not only works with cars, he races cars. To do that, he is required to get an intense physical every year. Magner knew he had a heart murmur; he said it’s been showing up on his physicals for at least 30 years. His last physical, however, revealed a bigger problem, one that could have ended his racing career.

Magner said, overall, he’s a healthy, active guy. So, when he started feeling tired and a little dizzy, he was shocked by his diagnosis.

“I had low cholesterol, been on a statin and, you know, managed my diet for 10 years and still had a 95 percent blocked artery,” Magner said.

When he saw a cardiologist, he found out two of his arteries were almost completely blocked and his heart murmur was from a mitral valve prolapse.

“So, in Ed’s case, he had a murmur for years and didn’t get it checked and a doctor told him he had a murmur but never went to get an echocardiogram to show he had mitral valve prolapse," said Dr. Jerry Pratt, a physician with Ascension Borgess Hospital.

Pratt said that if Ed had failed to acknowledge those symptoms and seen a doctor as soon as he did, his condition could have gotten dramatically worse.

Mirtal valve prolapse is when the leaflets of the mitral valve bulge into the heart’s upper chamber during the heart’s contraction. This condition, according to the Mayo Clinic, can lead to blood leaking backward into the left atrium, a condition called mitral valve regurgitation. Magner was also experiencing that condition.

“It’s a little scary,” Magner said. “You do things like, ‘oh yea, let’s update that trust and let’s make sure where all the bills are and how everything gets paid. It’s definitely a stop and make you think kind of situation.”

Magner was on the operating table for seven hours. Once he was out of the hospital, he spent months recovering and doing rehab, but ultimately his double bypass and mitral valve repair were a success.

“I’m a race car guy, right? So, I just had an engine replaced. So, I got a new, more powerful engine,” Magner said, smiling.

Getting that new, powerful engine gave Magner the option to get back in the driver’s seat and realize just how fortunate he really is.

“Not that I would choose this path, but make the best of it,” Manger said. “And it’s like, actually like I said, just a great second chance.”

Pratt said the technology and treatment for those with mirtal valve disease is only going to get better in the future. As for Ed’s future, he’s focused on getting healthy but said it’s possible he could race again in November.

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