Monday, April 15, 2019

Cincy Radio: As Promised, Bill Is Back On WLW 700 AM

Cincinnati radio talk show legend Bill Cunningham returned to the airwaves Friday just eight days after receiving a heart valve replacement that saved his life.

"Alright, Billy Cunningham back on the air after eight days on the disabled list," Cunningham said to open his show.

According to WKRC-TV12, his first guest: Dr. Dean Kereiakes, the Christ Hospital cardiologist who performed the aortic valve replacement. Dr. Kereiakes performed the procedure last Thursday. Cunningham's already back to work because of a minimally invasive procedure" transcatheter aortic valve replacement, also called TAVR.

"They punched a hole the size of a No. 2 pencil in my groin. And this 18-inch probe is about as thick as a cigar up into my heart. And within 24 hours of that, I'm having chicken noodle soup at my kitchen table at home, walking around," Cunningham said.

Twenty years ago, the procedure would have required far more downtime.

"They would have sawed you open, carved your valve out and put a new one in," Dr. Kereiakes said during the interview.

Dr. Kereiakes has been Cunningham's cardiologist for eight years. Cunningham knew he had a bicuspid aortic valve after receiving a scan of his heart years ago. In the last year, he was feeling short of breath and dizzy at times. His wife, Penny, urged him to go to the doctor in January where an echocardiogram was performed.

"So he shows me the echo, and my valve's opening one-eighth-of-an-inch when it should be open one inch," Cunningham recalls. "I said, 'Shouldn't I feel worse?' He said 'You will feel worse. You'll decline precipitously in the spring and the summer and you'll be dead.' I said, 'Doc, I got March Madness. I got Reds Opening Day. I got stuff going on, man.' He said, 'You're going to die'. I said, 'Die? What do you mean die?' He said, 'You're going to be dead.'"

The fact that Cunningham was having symptoms was concerning.

"The prognosis was guarded and he needed to do something," Dr. Kereiakes said.

Dr. Kereiakes inserted a valve from a cow using a stent and a catheter that was captured on video. The video shows the catheter expanding and working almost immediately.

"He had a spectacular result. An excellent result," said Dr. Kereiakes.

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