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Shawnee man gets life-saving heart surgery after physical exam leads to heart defect detection

Venkatesh Sridhar and Dr. Deepthi Vodnala
Posted at 3:18 PM, Feb 23, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — February is American Heart Month. It’s a time when health care experts encourage people to practice heart health and get regular physicals and screenings.

A Shawnee man’s decision to screen led to life-saving surgery.

“It definitely means a lot more to me now than it would have in the past,” Venkatesh Sridhar said.

He never thought this month would pertain to him.

The father of three said his wife encouraged him to get a physical exam in 2022, a decision that forever changed his life.

“I did not realize the surprise was waiting for me that there was a murmur," he said. "I was definitely asymptomatic with the condition I had."

Venkatesh’s heart murmur led to additional scans, where he was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve — something he was born with.

In January of 2023 he went through life-saving surgery to get a mechanical heart valve.

“Just like with everyone that can go through adversity, why me, why now?” he said.

He also owes his life to his team at Saint Luke’s Hospital, including his cardiologist, Dr. Deepthi Vodnala.

“Dr. Vodnala is definitely my cardiologist, but we share a bond that is much more personal than that.” Venkatesh said.

Vodnala agrees.

“I think we have definitely bonded a lot over the last year,” Vodnala said.

Vodnala said screening is especially important in cases like Venkatesh’s, since he never showed any symptoms. His routine physical is what saved his life.

“I really want to encourage all patients out there to get screened early so you can detect disease in its early stage where we can treat it better so we can avoid long term complications,” Vodnala said.

And for Venkatesh, this journey is only partially for him. It’s also for his wife and for his kids, and the life he wants to share with them.

“The ability for me to spend time with them, the ability for me to lift my kids, for me, quality of life? That is quality of life for me,” he said.

Vodnala said you should get a regular physical exam at least once every five years from ages 18 to 40.

For ages 40 and up, you should get a physical exam at least once every three years.