91-year-old avid walker back on her feet after heart procedure

TAVR procedure was her only option

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – A local woman in her 90s walked the Gate River Run up until five years ago when a heart condition slowed her down.  But now this feisty senior is back on her feet thanks to a procedure she got at Memorial Hospital that was one of her only options.

Nancy Grokett is a young 91-years-old and she's a bit of an athlete. She started young.

"Like I said I walked when I was seven months and when I was five years old I can remember walking two miles to school,"  says Grokett.

It was in her 50s after her husband died that she took walking to another level. Then at 74 she set a goal to walk the Gate River Run.

"I watch them come up over that bridge and I said I'll be in that next year," says Grokett.

The next year she walked.

"That was fantastic I floated on that.  I never could run them, I just had to walk," says Grokett.

For 12 straight years she walked until her heart got in the way.  Nancy was diagnosed with aortic valve stenosis, hardening of the main artery that carries blood out of the heart to the rest of the body.

"She was progressively getting short of breath couldn't get her groceries can go to the store getting short of breath walking around her neighborhood," says Dr. Vaqar Ali with Memorial Hospital.

She avoided surgery for several years until she got a serious warning.

"A cardiologist came in and they didn't sugarcoat it they said it's going to be a terrible death for you and one of them said, the one that really came after me, he said if you were my mama I have you down there right now," says Grokett.

Dr. Ali recommended the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement.  Doctors go in through the groin.  The malfunctioning valve is ballooned open and the new valve is anchored in place.  It's non-invasive and possibly the only option for older patients who might not be able to handle open heart surgery.

"The patient can actually wake up within two hours of the procedure and in most instances they're able to go home the next day and it's very minimal recovery," says Dr. Ali.

Nancy is about six months out of surgery and she's back to walking.

"I'm still only two miles or something like that," says Grokett.

She's pushing herself because she has one goal.

"I want to go back and do another River Run," says Grokett.

All this walking keeps her young and Nancy spreads this message to whomever she can.  

"I talked a lot of them into it. I said it's the easiest thing to do, you don't have to run, you don't have to jog, just put on a good pair shoes and start," says Grokett.

Dr. Ali said he will personally walk a 5k with Nancy when she's able to get out and walk again. 

If you want more information on the TAVR procedure contact Memorial Hospital. 

It's the only valve replacement option for patients with severe aortic stenosis who are not well enough to undergo traditional surgery.

About the Author:

Anchor on The Morning Show team and reporter specializing on health issues.