Before & After Heart Valve Surgery With… Chaz

I always enjoy reading patient success stories. However, this update really made me think, “Fannnnn-tasssss-tic!”. Specifically, I like the way Chaz utilizes a “Before and After” approach to describe his heart valve replacement experience:

Aortic Valve Replacement Patient

Hi Adam:

It has been awhile since I have written you, but I still avidly follow your magical blog.

Last week, I began my 2nd year with my new bovine aortic valve (no Robin William’s jokes, please!?).  To say the least, it’s been a remarkable journey and one whose total success I owe as much to you and your readers as I do to the amazing medical team who sent me on my way.  I tend to be on the wordy side, so here is the “executive summary:”

  • I had run marathons. The three years before the valve replacement, I was unable to run more than 3 or 4 miles comfortably and the last year was unable to run at all.  I am now up to a comfortable 12-mile run and am continuing to cautiously increase this distance as my heart and lungs are now way healthier than my 63-year-old legs!?
  • Coughing. Before the operation, I had severe coughing fits before going to sleep and upon awakening. Gone completely!
  • Bronchitis and Pneumonia. Before the operation, the slightest cold would drop into my chest and become Bronchitis or often pneumonia.  This occurred at least three times a year.  I have not been sick for the last 12 months!
  • Fatigue. I often fell asleep in business meetings but chalked that up to boring meetings and older age.  I don’t fall asleep anymore.
  • Interrupted Sleep. Another seemingly age related “issue” has disappeared so that rarely to I have to get up each night for more than one trip the bathroom!
  • Blood Pressure. My 175/95 (with medication) pre-op blood pressures is now 118/75 (still with medication).

Chaz With His Support Group

There is more… But, suffice it to say that I have amazingly renewed health, energy, and positive life outlook as a result of my “new” valve. I want to close by thanking you and all of those who contribute to your blog. From all of you, I have learned little things (like don’t pick up anything with out using both arms during early recovery) to huge life focused things (like the need to make friends and family an active part of your healing process).

I could ramble for hours about how my life has changed for the better over the last 12 months but I think you get the point.

Thanks again for your heart valve book and website,

Chaz

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.

To learn how Adam has helped millions of people with heart valve disease, watch Adam's video, subscribe to his free newsletter, or visit his Facebook, or Twitter pages.

  • Terry

    Chaz,

    Thanks for sharing your experience.Your story is what I needed to hear. I think I’m on the begining 3 years. I’m a bit younger at 56 have been cycling all my life and lately can’t keep up with others and some are older than me. I’m on beta blocker for a year now and I know that affects my cycling a bit. So now I just have to be patient for if,how and when I’ll need valve surgery.

    Terry

  • Joseph

    Dear Chaz,

    I am so happy to hear of your success. Thank GOD for miracles. I am a 62 year old athlete, having been diagnosed with a bi-cuspid aortic valve that is now severely stenoted. No regurge, no real symptoms. But, my game has come down alot and I can feel the valve cutting off oxygen to my body during tennis. But I am so, so concerned about this surgery. My body doesn’t like being mangeled and I don’t do well under those circumstances. Can you help me better prepare for the game? You and I are closely related having read that you are now running 12 miles subsequent to the surgery. IS THIS REALLY TRUE???? Are you not concerned about calcification to the new valve causing all of this turbulence during exercise? Please write to me. I need to be discipled. I can be reached at Camelot47@aol.com.

    My best to you and your new life,

    Joseph

  • Bob Lincoln

    Dear Chaz,

    I went through a successful quad-bypass in 2000 (at age 63)…and an aortic valve replacement in March, 2010 (at age 73)…I really don’t know now if I should “moo-moo” or “oink-oink”…but, whatever … it’s working!!!

    The first was of a preventative nature (no cardiac event prior), and the last I brought upon myself by drinking 3 cans of “Mr & Mrs T’s Bloody Mary Mix” (without alcohol) on a flight from Hartford, CT to Los Angeles at 35,000 feet – (NOTE: sodium per can = 1,000 mg … TOTAL CONSUMED = 3,000 mg!!! = aortic stenosis!!!)

    Live and learn!!! I would have been better off drinking only alcohol without the mix!!!

    Live long and prosper…

    Bob

  • Don Hull

    Wow, Chaz, thanks so much for sharing your experience. I am now 16 months post mitral valve replacement, also with a bovine tissue valve. While I am not a runner like you, I am amazed at how good I feel. I didn’t have any problems that I could detect with my mitral valve regurgitation pre-op, but two cardiologists and three surgeons all said I needed surgery within 6 months. For all you folks out there “thinking” about it, don’t “think” too long. Get all your questions answered, then make your decision and don’t look back. If you’re a praying person, pray about it, too. Life after surgery has some problems for sure, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. Heart valves don’t heal themselves. We are so fortunate to have surgeons with the skill to repair or replace our valves. Chaz, I think it’s great that you can again enjoy running. Best wishes to you and thanks again.

  • Paul Smith

    Hi Chaz and the others on this blog,

    Congratulations on your swift recovery! This past May 11th I also had aortic valve replacement with an Edwards bovine valve and aortic root graft. Prior to my surgery I was an active skier, hiker, cyclist, climber, runner and paddler. My surgery was done at Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston by Dr Prem Shekar. Three weeks post-op I was walking 4 miles per day, four weeks post-op, walked up to 6 miles per day and put in a one mile run. Two months post-op I began cycling again with 14 to 20 mile trips, three weeks later I did my first 50 miler since surgery with 22 others from work, then the following week I did a 57 mile solo ride on hilly terrain with a head wind both ways (I hate it when that happens!). It felt so good I went out and bought a new bike! So, Terry, don’t be concerned about your future cycling capabilities – I did better than most in my group on that 50 miler. And Joseph, I think you will find new life for your tennis game after surgery. If you were active before surgery and have a positive attitude, you will likely bounce back very quickly. If any of you have any questions for me, please feel free to e-mail me at psmithu18b@gmail.com.

    My best to you all!

    Paul

  • Michael

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. I truly appreciate it. I am a 41 year-old man and very recently found out that I will be having my mitral heart valve replaced. Just two months ago I felt invincible, so this was quick and shocking. It’s great to know you’re running again and feel so full of life and energy. My biggest concern has been the quality of life post-surgery. I can’t wait to get back in the gym.
    michaelwsf@gmail.com

  • Sargon

    Hi there,
    I am 33 years old, cyclist and generally very healthy. Recently, I was diagnosed with (IE) Infective Endocarditis and found out that I have bicuspid aortic valve by birth defect; I was admitted to hospital two weeks ago.
    I have been on the IV benzylpenicillin (antibiotic) therapy for the past two weeks and I am advised that will require at least another 2-4 weeks of the penicillin before I will undergo an open heart surgery to replace the damaged aortic valve.
    I am overwhelmed by this whole episode and finding it very difficult to deal with it whilst pending my surgery. Also, I am confused as to what type of valve to choose i.e. Mechanical or the Tissue valve.
    The surgeon has explained the advantages and disadvantages of the replaceable valves available, risks associated and etc.
    The surgeon’s recommendation is that a mechanical valve is more suitable for my situation however, he said the end decision lies with me and since I am an athlete, better of to go for a tissue valve so that I can carry on with my life style and cycling.
    My main concern with mechanical valve is, I do not want to go on anticoagulant therapy or (warferin blood thinner) for the rest of my life. Being a young person and on top an athlete, I am dreading the risks associated with falls, cuts and bleeding. Also, I am not really convinced with having the regular INR blood tests for the rest of my life and etc.
    Hence, I am deciding to go for a tissue valve and do want your suggestion or advice if I am making the right decision. However, I am yet to make the final decision and will be talking to the surgeon in the coming days.
    Your feedback to the above would be highly appreciated.
    my email is: agoony@msn.com
    Thanks & Regards
    Sargon

  • Sargon

    Hi Michael,
    Thanks for the information you provided me with so far.
    Just wondering if the mechanical valve do make any sound?
    I heard that some people complain from click sounds and etc.
    Also, what are some side affects of the anti-coagulation ?

    I am having my surgery very soon on Tues 11/01/11 and I have chosen a tissue valve.

    However, the surgeon team yet to sit and talk to me before the surgery and need to sign the consent forms before the surgery.

    So, I still haven’t made a final decision as yet but, I am reluctant to the whole idea of mechanical valve because of the anti-coagulation.

    Please correct me if I am wrong and if I am making the right decision.

    How long do you think a tissue valve will last for?

    Many thanks.
    Regards
    Sargon
    Email: agoony@msn.com

  • riann

    I just came across your blog by accident and loved it. I am 33 and have been diagnosed with a quad cuspid aortic valve. Would you happen to know anything about that? For now I am in good health but would like to know more.

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