Gallipo, 66, had always enjoyed active pursuits: dancing, traveling, visiting friends. But she started to notice she had slowed down—dramatically. “I would sleep half the day. I didn’t have any desire to do anything except rest,” the Raleigh retiree said. “I just thought, ‘I’m getting older.’”
She also wondered if her fatigue and shortness of breath might be related to hepatitis C, which she had contracted decades earlier from blood transfusions during bone cancer treatment. She had heard there were new medications that could cure hepatitis C, so she went to see Duke liver specialist Dr. Andrew Muir, MD, MHS.
“Dr. Muir listened to my heart,” Gallipo recalled. “He said, ‘You’ve got a heart murmur.’ And I said, ‘I do?’” Dr. Muir ordered an echocardiogram. She had the test at Duke Raleigh Hospital a few days later and headed home.
“Before I could even get in the door—I was in the parking lot at my apartment—I received a call from the nurse,” Gallipo said. “She said, ‘You need to see a cardiologist as soon as possible.’’”
The next morning Duke cardiologist Dr. Lawrence Liao, MD, delivered the news: Gallipo had severe mitral valve regurgitation.