Rachel shared that she has been diagnosed with a heart condition called mitral valve prolapse and will undergo surgery this month
Rachel, 34, shared in an interview with the Daily Mail on Tuesday that doctors diagnosed her with the heart condition mitral valve prolapse (MVP) in Dec. 2023 after she experienced years of fainting episodes and breathlessness.
“I have mitral valve prolapse and it causes regurgitation, which basically means the valves in your heart that are supposed to be one way [face the wrong direction],' Rachel told the outlet. “I'm having blood flow that's going backwards, so it's difficult to get enough oxygen and blood flow through the other areas of my body.”
The TV host shared that she began noticing something was wrong after she faced difficulty going up a flight of stairs in her house and playing with her 3-year-old son Jude. After seeing multiple doctors, she was finally diagnosed by a cardiologist who performed a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) test, which photographs the heart using high frequency sound waves.
According to the American Heart Association, mitral valve prolapse is a condition in which the two valve flaps of the mitral valve, which is located between the upper left heart chamber and the lower left heart chamber, do not close evenly, preventing the blood from smoothly flowing in the right direction of the heart. In severe cases, mitral valve prolapse could lead to serious complications such as heart attack and stroke, according to the organization.
Rachel told the Daily Mail that she will be undergoing the corrective procedure on Feb. 27. During the procedure, she said she will be attached to a heart-lung machine in order to keep her organs working while they fix the valve in her heart.
“It's technically open-heart surgery,' she explained. “So you know, your heart isn't beating, it's on a machine. They have to kind of like jump it back. And it's scary stuff.”
The media personality, who appeared to get emotional in the interview, added that the idea of the operation is a terrifying one. “I'm riding the waves of just bursting into tears, thinking about what [the surgery] is like.”
While the road ahead is uncertain, Rachel noted that receiving the diagnosis on Dec. 20 had been “validating,” adding, “You're like, "awesome, we figured out why I've been feeling like I'm going crazy, because every doctor thinks I'm insane.”
Rachel went on to explain that it would take about three months for her to recover from the surgery, but that her heart, which had grown larger due to the mitral valve prolapse, might not ever “re-engineer” itself back to normal.
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“But if you've had an issue like this for a long time and you haven't gotten it fixed, then you get into a situation where your heart might not go back down to where it's supposed to be, so it stays large, which causes heart failure,” she said.
However, she is keeping optimistic, sharing on her Instagram Story that she was thankful for every “text, comment, DM” after telling her story, and noted that she wished she could protect her husband Rick Schirmer and son Jude from what happens next.
“[To be honest,] it’s hard for me to put into words how this moment looks like. It just has so many colors, twists, turns,” she wrote on Instagram. “I feel incredibly grateful that (after years of tests and confusion) we found an answer to what’s been going on with me.”
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