University of Cincinnati student's hunch saves her from heart disease weeks before her wedding

CINCINNATI -- A University of Cincinnati student's mindfulness may be the reason she's alive, just weeks before she planned to walk down the aisle.

Alexandria Wall majors in social work and recently started to feel fatigued in class.

"I started feeling a little bit down in school during the very beginning of second semester," she said. "I started to have some chest pains and just got sick a little bit more."

Once a running enthusiast, Wall started to feel out of breath after completing short, simple tasks.

Wall's lack of energy and illness was caused by endocarditis. Also known as aortic valve disease, it affects up to four valves that control blood flow in and out of the heart. Endocarditis destroyed one of Wall's valves and damaged another, requiring the 19-year-old to undergo surgery.

"Shocked," she said. "It was like the last thing that I thought it was or expecting it to be."

Bacteria of any type can attach to the aorta, and can happen when it's least anticipated. According to Dr. Richard Becker of UC's College of Medicine, the attachment's damage can be fatal.

"Typically it is preceded by bacteria entering into the bloodstream," Becker said. "(The bacteria attachment) Could be through a mouth, could be through a nose, could be from a skin infection."

Wall's operation took place before one of the biggest days of her life - her wedding was set for July. She said her fiancé will patiently wait for his bride.

"He's kind of putting things in perspective and maybe changing around the timeline," Wall said.

She said even though surgery may delay schoolwork, and may delay her wedding, she's glad listening to her body gave her a second chance at life.

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