Here is an interesting account at the Minneapolis Star Tribune about Veronika Meyer, a Swiss woman, who plans to scale Mount Everest. What’s unusual about this climber is that she is equiped with an eight year old St. Jude’s mechanical aortic valve. And that’s not all:
Meyer has scaled six of the world’s Seven Summits, the highest mountains on each continent — and she climbed four of them after her valve surgery. Her first attempt on Everest, in May 2003, was thwarted by heavy winds just 250 meters from the summit. “I was not really afraid, but I was concerned. It seemed to be getting dangerous,” she recalls.
Ironically, Meyers has the older version of valve technology — these days up to 70 percent of surgeons opt to implant bovine or porcine tissue valves instead of the mechanical ones.
Dr. Vib Kshettry, a heart surgeon at Minneapolis Heart Institute, said the main difference between the two is that recipients of the mechanical versions must take blood-thinning medication for the rest of their lives.