Arnold Schwarzenegger's Heart Valve Surgeries (2020 Update)
Yes... The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, had not one... But, three heart valve surgeries!
On April 16, 1997, Arnold Schwarzenegger underwent elective heart surgery to replace a defective, congenital aortic heart valve. Arnold Schwarzenegger opted against a mechanical valve replacement and chose a tissue valve because he felt a mechanical valve might limit his physical activity and capacity to exercise.
10 Years After Heart Surgery, Schwarzenegger Celebrates!
California Governor and movie star of films including The Terminator and The Predator, Arnold Schwarzenegger marked the 10-year anniversary of his heart surgery at USC’s Health Science Campus. Schwarzenegger visited USC on April 16, 2007 and saluted the new Cardiovascular Thoracic Institute (CVTI), according to a press release issued by The Keck School Of Medicine at USC.
The CVTI is waging war against the leading cause of death among American men and women - heart disease. The CVTI was created under the leadership of Dr. Vaughn Starnes, chair of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and surgeon-in-chief at the Keck Medicine of USC.
“At the USC Cardiovascular Thoracic Institute, we are dedicated to improving the statistics concerning cardiovascular and thoracic disease such as those once faced by the governor,” said Starnes, who also serves as executive director of the Institute.
In 1997, Dr. Starnes led a team of three surgeons who replaced the aortic valve in then-actor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s heart. The aortic valve prevents blood from flowing back into the left ventricle of the heart. Starnes implanted a healthy human tissue valve and said at the time, “This will not limit Arnold Schwarzenegger in any way when he recovers.”
The Institute is a unique collaboration of cardiothoracic and vascular surgeons, cardiologists, pulmonologists and basic scientists all working together without the boundaries of departments or specialties. “We want our patients to know that whatever the level of care they need, our team will design and implement the health plan that works best for them,” Starnes said.
2018 Update: Arnold Needs A Pulmonary Valve Re-Operation
On March 30, 2018, we learned that Arnold Schwarzengger required a second heart surgery. So you know, this is not uncommon for heart valve surgery patients. Often times, especially for patients with tissue heart valve replacement devices, the valve simply wears out. The average lifespan for a cow valve or pig valve is about 10 to 15 years, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
For his second operation, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was 70 years old at the time of this operation, had a pulmonary valve replacement procedure performed at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. While it was anticipated that a minimally invasive, transcather device would be used during the procedure, a surgical valve was ultimately used during an open-heart procedure using a median sternotomy.
"The 1997 heart valve replacement was never meant to be permanent," stated Daniel Ketchell, a spokesman for Arnold. "Schwarzenegger's pulmonic valve was successfully replaced."
It is believed that Schwarzenegger had a bicuspid aortic valve which led to a Ross Procedure operation performed in 1997. During the Ross Procedure, the aortic valve is removed. Then, Arnold's pulmonary valve was switched to the aortic position. Lastly, a human donor valve was inserted into the pulmonary valve position.
2020 Update: Arnold Gets An Aortic Valve Re-Replacement!
On Ocotber 23, 2020, we learned that Arnold Schwarzenegger had a third heart valve procedure, a re-replacement of his aortic valve replacement. The procedure was performed at the Cleveland Clinic.
At this time, it is not known whether Arnold received the new valve using a surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR) or a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). As Schwarzenegger previously had two cardiac procedures, it is possible that Arnold may have received a TAVR using a Valve-in-Valve approach to replace his failing aortic tissue valve that was implanted in 1997. We have contacted the Cleveland Clinic to learn more and will report back soon.
After his procedure, Arnold posted the picture above with the following statement, "Thanks to the team at Cleveland Clinic, I have a new aortic valve to go along with my new pulmonary valve from my last surgery. I feel fantastic and have already been walking the streets of Cleveland enjoying your amazing statues. Thank you to every doc and nurse on my team."
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Page last updated: October 25, 2020