Arnold Schwarzenegger's Heart Valve Surgery

By Adam Pick - Patient, Author & Founder

Yes... The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, had heart valve surgery!

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.


Schwarzenegger Heart Valve Surgery


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 at the Keck School.

“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.

Ten years ago, 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 mplement the health plan that works best for them,” Starnes said.

According to Keck School of Medicine Dean Brian Henderson, the Institute is an important new initiative for the school, bringing clinicians and scientists together to work more collaboratively toward enhanced patient care, scientific discovery and excellent training of future physicians.

“The new Institute will allow our faculty to push the boundaries of their field,” said Henderson. “And it will continue USC’s push to expand our facilities here on the Health Sciences Campus, providing space for growth in our research and patient care programs.”

Those programs include innovative robotic therapy and heart valve replacement science.

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

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