Grateful Heart: Diagnosis leads local man to be an ambassador for the American Heart Association

Mark Riddler is an ambassador for the American Heart Association's valve program. (KSN Photo)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – It took more than three decades for Mark Ridder to get an official diagnosis of what was affecting his heart.

But that process all started when a doctor simply used a stethoscope.

Mark says he knew something was wrong at a young age.

“I look back at it now, all these years later and I know why I couldn’t ride my bike as fast as my brother,” remembers Mark. “Now, I know why I ran out of breath trying to keep up with the other kids and I didn’t know what that was. I just thought I can’t keep up.”

It was when Mark went for a high school physical that a doctor listened to his heart and noticed a murmur.

Mark was told to pay attention to it and avoid strenuous sports.

Thirty years later, a doctor was able to do a full workup and diagnosed Mark with bicuspid aortic valve disease.

“Yes, I was having symptoms, but unfortunately, I didn’t recognize it. Another reason to educate yourself and get in and speak with your physician.”

It’s a progressive disease that requires the heart valve to eventually be replaced, but afterwards, one can experience a normal life expectancy.

To increase his odds, Mark adopted a healthy lifestyle.

Now, he’s also is an ambassador for the American Heart Association’s valve program.

“We as valve surgery patients reach out to help educate other patients out there who may be suffering from the same kind of disease,” explains Mark.

So, he volunteers regularly sharing his knowledge and experience with others.

“It’s what really drives my passion, knowing what I’ve come through, being able to relate that one on one with other patients so that may help others who have the same disease.”

Mark said he made the decision to adopt that healthy lifestyle early on after seeing his dad and other family members suffer with heart disease.


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