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

Atrial Fibrillation After Heart Surgery: What Should Patients Know?

At the recent Heart Valve Summit, I was overwhelmed with wonderful patient questions for our “Ask Adam Anything” event.  For example, Eileen asked me about atrial fibrillation (AFib) which is an abnormal heart rhythm.  Eileen’s question was, “Is atrial fibrillation after heart valve surgery common?”

As you may know… Atrial fibrillation is closely associated with heart valve disease.  For that reason, I wanted to get Eileen an expert opinion.  So, I tracked down Dr. Marc Gillinov who is the new Chair of Cardiac Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic.  So you know, Dr. Gillinov is a guru when it comes to valvular heart disease and atrial fibrillation.  You should also know that Dr. Gillinov has successfully treated many, many, many patients from our community including Anita Devine, Jeff Pirofsky and Fran Zilko.

Here are the highlights from my interview with Dr. Gillinov about atrial fibrillation after heart surgery.



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Surgeon Spotlight: Dr. Luis Castro Receives Over 100 Patient Testimonials!

I am overly excited to share that Dr. Luis Castro just received his 103rd patient testimonial at his surgeon profile.

If you’re not familiar with Dr. Castro, let me introduce you to a special person whose patient-centric approach to cardiac care is fundamentally unique.  Dr. Castro goes above-and-beyond for his patients.  He gives out his cell phone number to his patients.  Dr. Castro goes surfing with his patients.  He educates his patients about each step in the surgical process.  And, most importantly, he delivers excellent surgical results.


Dr. Castro with Tom Fitzmorris (his aortic valve patient)

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Is Aortic Valve Repair A New Global Phenomenon?

Together, we’ve learned lots about the advantages of mitral valve repair procedures which include long-term durability and freedom from re-operation.  In the process, I’ve attended wonderful mitral valve conferences and I’ve even gone inside live surgeon workshops dedicated to teaching best practices for mitral valve repair.

That said, you might be wondering, “What about aortic valve repair?” and “Why don’t I hear much about aortic valve repair?”.  Unfortunately, our educational efforts specific to aortic valve repair have been minimal.  In the past, I simply haven’t received many patient questions about aortic valve repair.

Well…  It appears that is about to change.  During the recent Heart Valve Summit, I sat down with Dr. Vinay Badhwar, the Professor and Executive Chair of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at West Virginia University Medicine, to get the latest updates on new aortic valve repair devices and techniques.  Here are the exciting highlights from our discussion.



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Aortic Stenosis Progression: Top 5 Facts Patients Should Know

Aortic stenosis is a wildly misunderstood form of heart disease that impacts 12% of the elderly population. The disease is often mis-diagnosed and often under-treated. This narrowing of the aortic valve is commonly referred to as an “insidious” disease considering (i) its symptoms are regularly and incorrectly discounted to normal aging processes and (ii) patients can be asymptomatic.  As the disease can have fatal implications, I’ve also heard several doctors call aortic stenosis a “silent killer”.


Facts About Aortic Stenosis


As my personal mission is to educate and empower our patient community, I wanted to learn more about aortic stenosis progression.  Specifically, I wanted to dig deeper because so many aortic stenosis patients in our community are in “watchful waiting”.  In watchful waiting, the patient has been diagnosed with aortic stenosis. However, the severity of the disease does not yet require surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR) or transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).  So you know… I was in the “watchful waiting” for 7 years.

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John’s Photos Go Viral With 5,300 Facebook Likes!

The power of our patient community never ceases to amaze me. You guys and gals are simply amazing!!!

Interestingly… When you combine our “patient power” with social media, some unexpected and wonderful things can happen that drive awesome awareness to heart valve disease.  For example, John Dodson had aortic valve replacement due to aortic stenosis last week.  During John’s hospital stay, Seth (his son) posted several inspirational photos at John’s journal.  After seeing these inspirational photos, I posted them at our Facebook page.  Then, these photos went viral and were shared all over the world.  In total, John’s pictures had over 5,300 Facebook Likes and 750 Comments.

Here’s John flashing our community two “thumbs-up” just 4 hours after surgery. This one photo had 4,800 Facebook Likes, 619 Comments and 225 Timeline Shares. Fantastic!



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