Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog

Get the latest news, patient advice and insights about heart valve surgery from Adam Pick, patient, author and website founder

Top 5 Facts About Aortic Valve Surgery

I was just reading The Washington Post when I came across an interesting story about aortic valve replacement. In addition to discussing the recent heart valve replacements of Barbara Bush and Robin Williams, the article posted its “Top 5 Facts About Aortic Valve Replacement”.

Tissue Valve Replacement Sewn In Aortic Position

I thought you might like to see some of the highlights from this article. So, here they are:

1. There is not much you can do to prevent or protect against aortic valve failure, which occurs when either the valve hardens or simply wears out, often as a function of age. (Bush was 83 and Williams was 57 at the time of their aortic valve surgeries.)

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Another Awesome Innovation… The MitraClip

As part of our ongoing education about minimally invasive treatments for heart valve disease, here is a follow-up article to my last blog and video about the MitraClip (manufactured by Evalve).

I thought you might like to read this story by Ellen Lee of The San Jose Business Journal which touches on the MitraClip, its unique technology, its growth and its patient success stories.

Evalve President – Ferolyn Powell

There was also some very interesting statistics about mitral regurgitation provided in this report. For example, Ferolyn Powell, Evalve’s President, believes that 250,000 patients are diagnosed with mitral regurgitation and 50,000 mitral valve operations occur each year.

Finally, I had to giggle a bit when I saw my name referenced in the story. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you are interested, here is a link to the story “Menlo Park-based Evalve Mends Hearts Without The Ache”.

Keep on tickin!

P.S. To leave a comment, please click here.

Rodney, 78, Offers Praise For Dr. Chitwood After Heart Valve Surgery

As many of you know, I started this website to educate, inspire and empower patients with heart valve disorders including mitral regurgitation, aortic stenosis, etc.

Three years later… It turns out that I am the one who is inspired by the patient stories of Randy, Sylvia, Patricia, Anita, Robin, Charles, John, Leslie, Steve, Jonathan, Mavis and so many others. Each one of these patient stories (shared previously in this blog) radiate the extraordinary human will to face heart valve disease and rise above it.

On that note, Rodney from North Carolina just emailed me his story. At 78 years of age, Rodney is currently in the middle of his recovery. Here is what he writes:


This is to let you know I underwent aortic valve surgery and one bypass at the new heart hospital in Greenville, North Carolina on June 1, 2009. Dr. Randolph Chitwood, MD, who is recognized as one of the outstanding heart surgeons in country, performed the surgery.

Rodney Trueblood – Heart Valve Replacement Patient

I came through with flying colors. After a week in the hospital, I was transferred by ambulance to Guardian Care Nursing Home in Elizabeth City, North Carolina where I live. I am 78, widowed and live alone, so was unable to take care of myself at home.

I am still feeling some pain from the incision, but take Tylenol which relieves problem.ย  I did not want to get hooked on pain medication Percocet, as you did with Vicodin.

Yesterday, I saw Dr. Chitwood for my follow-up. He released me to my local cardiologist. He also said I could drive again and resume normal activity.ย  My only restrictions are not lifting anything over 30 pounds or going swimming.

Dr. Randolph Chitwood – Rodney’s Surgeon

I just wanted to thank you again for your excellent heart valve surgery book which detailed what to expect before and after surgery.ย  It was a big help to me. I also really appreciate your blogs, which are quite informative.

Keep up the good work and… Keep on tickin’! ๐Ÿ™‚

Rodney Trueblood
North Carolina

Medtronic’s Melody Heart Valve Replacement Technology Gets FDA Support

As we have discussed, the competitive market for minimally invasive heart valve replacements and heart valve repair continues to heat up.

Earlier this week, we learned more about Edwards’ SAPIEN technology. Then came this interesting story about Medtronic and its Melody transcatheter pulmonary heart valve replacement solution. Did you see this?

The Associated Press reported that federal health advisers unanimously backed an experimental heart valve replacement solution from Medtronic as a safe and effective treatment for patients with a rare heart defect.

The Melody Heart Valve Replacement

The Food and Drug Administration’s panel of heart experts voted 12 to 0 in favor of approving the Melody Pulmonary Valve, although stent fractures were identified during the study. According to The Wall Street Journal, the FDA said stents – which are a part of the Melody device – fractured in 18% of patients in the study. The concern about such fractures is that parts of the device could break off and result in blood clots. Ultimately, the FDA believes there is a “low probability” that such fragments would cause blood clots.

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“What Are The Side Effects of Coumadin?” Asks Elissa

Elissa was recently diagnosed with severe mitral regurgitation due to mitral valve prolapse.

In an email to me, Elissa writes, “Hi Adam – I’m going through the challenging process of picking a mechanical or tissue valve in case my valve can not be repaired. I know I’ll have to use Coumadin for the rest of my life if I go with a mechanical valve. Are there side effects of Coumadin that I should be aware of? If so, what are the common Coumadin side effects? Thanks for everything! Elissa”

Before answering Elissa’s question, I would encourage her (and perhaps you) to review a prior blog titled, “What Is Life Like On Coumadin?”. In the comments section of that blog, 20+ patients talk about their experiences of using Coumadin on a daily basis.

That said, the common side effects of Coumadin, according to MedicineNet, can be:

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