Your Health Tamar Raucher | 6 years ago

Bill: A Heart for Fashion

For many years, Bill Evans woke each morning wondering if he’d have a heart attack that day.

Now in his sixties, the North Carolina native had faced heart troubles nearly all his life: Complications from a childhood case of strep throat had led to rheumatic fever, which caused early damage to his heart. Then he developed a heart murmur, and his heart valves hadn’t functioned properly since. “As I got older, my heart valves started tightening up, and my shortness of breath got worse and worse,” says Bill. Doctors told him he was at major risk of having a heart attack or stroke, leaving him with a constant feeling of worry. After retiring from careers in furniture design and Jaguar sales, Bill discovered a new passion later in life: fashion. He’d developed a love for designing clothing and accessories, using the same fabrics to make clothes that he’d once used to upholster furniture. But his worsening heart condition made his new creative passion, which often sent him to London for materials, difficult to pursue. “I didn’t feel my heart was strong enough for me to really put everything into my work,” says Bill. “I didn’t feel free.” Doctors had been monitoring his heart condition for years, but Bill knew it was time to do something more. That’s when he visited the cardiologists at Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute. After years of close monitoring by a team of specialists, his doctors recommended surgery to replace the aortic valve in his heart. Interventional cardiologist Scott Valeri, MD, was one of the doctors who guided Bill’s care at Sanger. “Our goal was to get Bill’s heart in the best possible shape,” he says, “so he would have the strength and energy he needed to focus on his designs.” Every step of the way, Bill says his doctors gave him personalized attention and assured him he was in good hands. “It was obvious how much they really cared about me,” he says. After a successful surgery and a year of cardiac rehab, Bill says the feeling of anxiety over his heart health is long gone – and the joy of following his creative passion has happily taken its place. “I don’t worry now that anything could happen to me,” says Bill. “And I’m not hesitant to do the things I want to do.” “His recovery has been terrific,” says Dr. Valeri. “Now he’s able to be as active as he wants to be, and do anything physically that he wants to do.” Not only does he feel 20 years younger, Bill says, but he enjoys the freedom of having no limitations. “I work on my clothes and my sketches. I let myself get lost in the creative process. And when I go to London, I walk around for hours.” A healthy heart lets you stay focused on doing what you love.  Learn how Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute can help you keep your heart healthy.