Velma Fletcher

Velma Fletcher knew heart surgery was in her future.

But the 75-year-old Montgomery native - who had been diagnosed by her cardiologist, Naseem Jaffrani, M.D., as having aortic valve stenosis several years earlier – was content to wait.

Aortic valve stenosis – which can be caused by a congenital heart defect or calcium buildup – causes the heart’s aortic valve to narrow. The narrowing means the valve can’t open fully and obstructs blood flow, which then leads to heart failure.

“I didn’t have the symptoms of stenosis that I was supposed to have, so we watched it very close for a number of years,” Fletcher said. “Dr. Jaffrani said I just continued to amaze him.

When a January 2011 heart cath revealed no blockage, Fletcher was content to delay the surgery yet again.

“I’m a walker. I exercise, eat healthy – and I think that’s why I have not had to have this valve replacement before I did,” Fletcher explained.

But in October of 2011, Fletcher decided it was time for surgery - so she moved to Ball from Montgomery to be closer to family and medical care.

“I’ve done wonderfully well,” said Fletcher, who had surgery in early 2012. “I go to cardiac rehab three days a week. I walk, exercise and try to get other seniors in my community to do the same.  It’s been an amazing journey.”