“Any Questions For The World’s Leading Heart Valve Surgeons?” Asks Adam

By Adam Pick on January 28, 2011

Exciting news everybody!!!

I wanted you all to know that I am driving to San Diego, California for the 47th annual Society of Thoracic Surgeons convention. Over the next few days, I’ll be meeting with several leading heart valve surgeons including Dr. Gillinov, Dr. Accola, Dr. Chitwood, Dr. Adams, Dr. Pettersson, Dr. Ad, Dr. Stewart, Dr. Roselli and many others. In total, I’ve heard that over 1,500 surgeons attend STS each year.


Question For Surgeons


Given this unique situation, I just had a thought that might help you and our community…

I imagine that many of you preparing and/or recovering from heart valve surgery, may have questions related to topics including aortic stenosis, mitral regurgitation, mitral valve prolapse, bicuspid aortic valves, the Ross procedure, mechanical valves, Coumadin, aortic valve replacement, the transcatheter trials (CoreValve, Sapien, MitraClip), pig valves, cow valves, and cardiac rehab.

If you like, please send me your questions by leaving a comment to this post. I will take your questions, ask the surgeons, and then post the answers here at my blog. What do you think? Sound like a good idea?

FYI, you can also email me at adam@heartvalvesurgery.com.

Keep on tickin!

Written by Adam Pick
- Patient & Website Founder

Adam Pick, Heart Valve Patient Advocate

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Suliman says on September 12th, 2011 at 9:08 am

I did a TEE on a patient, he is on Wafarin since 1998 for AVR
It looks like tissue valve definitely not metallic , may be stented valveas the edges do bit reflective.He is on Warfarin since that time, unfortunately the surgeons and the notes are unavailable. Should I stop his warfarin as he is in SR and has noother indication for warfarin

cindy t says on September 13th, 2011 at 11:54 pm

My valve replacement surgery was on July 28,2011. I still feel bruise like pain in the center of my chest and a deep pain below my heart, like a bruised rib. how much longer should I expect to feel this pain? I’m 63, my son says bruised ribs can ache for 4 to 6 months. His experience is based on a atv accident. The DR’s I’ve asked won’t commit. “It’s an individual thing” That’s all I get!

Connie says on September 29th, 2011 at 6:14 am

Is sudden onset of memory loss related or symptomatic of bicuspid aortic valve disease?

annelie says on October 19th, 2011 at 9:19 am

i had valve replacement and triple bypass in may 2010 and am now eperiencing shortness of breath at times of not that much exertion should i be concerned

Barry Stone says on October 31st, 2011 at 7:41 pm

…I am not an MD…but….seems to me you should call your cardiology to get it checked out. At least ask to talk to the cardiologist nurse assistant and tell that person what you are experiencing….barry on the mtn in NM

Maureen says on November 1st, 2011 at 8:19 am

Well here I am again. It is just one year since my surgery and I am feeling great except for periodic spells of dizziness which come on suddenly and end just as suddenly. My doctor here in Japan sent me to have an MRI and C-scan as well as an xray of my heart. Everything is normal so I am just taking the medicine she has prescribed. Other than that I can’t believe it is already a year and I do feel great and am carrying a light workload. I am 73 and hanging in there..Thanks for all your great work in this field.

Dennis Sanchez says on November 3rd, 2011 at 4:54 pm

My mother is 79 years old and is obese with diabetes and Hypertension. She was recently diagnosed with Aortic Insufficiency and a large Acending Aortic Aneurysm (4+ i believe). should she have surgery for this of medical treatment. Who is the best surgeon in San Diego and the best in Los Angeles? I.E. who does the most cases with the best outcomes. thank you Dennis

Barry Stone says on November 5th, 2011 at 10:25 am

If she was my Mom, I’d call Cleveland Clinic Foundation (google Cleveland Clinic). They do take Medicare. When I researched for myself making geograph a consideration, but no way a limiting criteria, it became very clear to me (my eyes, my brain) Cleveland Clinic was probably the best place. They do more heart surgeries than any other place and have a super team of surgeons and care professionals, best I’ve ever seen (my limited exposure) anywhere. They are rated at the top by those that rate these things. …Barry on the mtn in NM.

Wayne Shue says on November 6th, 2011 at 10:02 am

I am 59.5 years old. I am going to be operated on for two issues. I have an aneurism of my aortic root. 5.5 cm. I also have severe mitral valve insufficiency. There is hope that the mitral valve can be repaired, but not sure until they open me up. The aortic valve may not be need to be repaired or replaced if the gortex sleeve can be installed without complications. Unfortunately if all does not fall into place replacement of both valves could be a possibilty. A decision needs to be mde about bovine vs mechanical. I dread coumadine but i ma not sure if fears are unfounded. How probable are all the things I hear about bruising? the need for a disciplined diet? I used to play competive volleyball and currently play pick-up. I hate to give that up. I have been told a bovine aortic valve is likely to last 15 whereas the mitral valve only 10. The mitral valve numbers bother me. FYI The only medical issue I have had prior to this is two kidneystones. I have made a change by increasing my water intake daily.
Appreciate you thoughts as i am on the fence which way to go with this.

Brian Dodd says on November 13th, 2011 at 8:55 am

I am 58 years old need aorta valve replacement I drive semi truck for a living I have never ha a serious cut doing my job my hobby is horses a little riding and some harness sliegh riding
I take metformin for diabetes , ramapil for high blood pressure ,
bupropion for depression , mirtazapine for relaxing to sleep

I can not decide on mechanical or tissue valve my doctor has not been clear on what he thinks is best

Any advice would be helpful


Barry Stone says on November 13th, 2011 at 5:11 pm

What do I know? There are lots of places with expertise, but, my opinion from my research is you can’t go wrong by getting the answer to your question at Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF). The web site is http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/default.aspx and a number there for asking questions is 800-659-7822. When I had my mitral valve sugery, the goal was to repair the existing valve if possible, but if, when the doc got in there (in this case a minimally invasive approach with a robot which results in a lot less possible complications over getting the sternum cracked open, and much faster recovery)..but, if when the doc got in there it was determined a replacement valve was necessary, then I was offered the choice of mechanical or animal tissue valve. I was told the advantages and disadvantages of each. The major reason for me to have a tissue valve, should I need a replacement, was with a tissue valve I would not have to take coumadin (a blood thinner) for the rest of my life, to me a pain in the ass to have my blood clotting monitored and coumadin kept in adjustment forever…just my own thinking. Anyway…I’d suggest contacting CCF for an opinion…and, after my very positive experience with them, I go as far as to recommend if you can…insurance coverage considered and all…if you could…go there for your procedure. They are as good as you could find anywhere, if not better, if not the best place on the planet to have the procedure done. …Barry on the mountain in New Mexico, who, thanks to the CCF team and a bunch of other people, I was able to complete the Marine Corps Marathon a couple weeks ago, 7 1/2 months post open heart surgery.

danette says on November 14th, 2011 at 1:11 am


Shizhong Bu says on November 24th, 2011 at 8:35 am

I would like to know how long have to wait if need Minimally Invasive Surgery for mitral valve repair on waiting list? Thanks.

Shizhong Bu

ruthmcc says on December 3rd, 2011 at 10:32 am

My 52 y/o son has gall stones will need surgery He is on coumadin after having AVR 20 month ago, will he need special precautions

Charles says on December 28th, 2011 at 5:35 pm

I have had my arotic valve replaced. (cow vlave ) Now I may have a blockage to my heart. While doing a ultra sound they have found a
calicum deposit on the valve. Now they do not want to do a angigram
because they think they might cause a stroke. They only want to treat my problem with medication. My problem is I am getting light
headed and short of breath.

terri says on December 29th, 2011 at 7:47 pm

I was hospitalized few months ago for observation and to have a stress test. This was due from heaviness in my chest, couldn’t catch my breath. This went on for a month before I finally went to the ER. After a day they released me. Never told me anything. Stress test was ok. They thought I had a blockage. Both parents had heart trouble. My dad had a heart attack, my mother had the maze procedure done. Now the heaviness is back with the pain. This has been going on for a wk. this time. Under a lot of stress. Along with the pain and heaviness really tired. Almost to the point where I can barely get through the work day. Can you maybe give me some advice about this? Thank you in advance.

lamantia rose says on January 2nd, 2012 at 3:00 pm

i would like to know if aperson can live with a closed heart valve, or is it a matter of life or death to receive a replacement valve?

Tina Conti says on January 3rd, 2012 at 11:24 am

I was wanting to know if having your gallbladder removed can result in getting fluid around your heart and lungs?

Sherri says on January 11th, 2012 at 11:57 am

My husband had AVR done with St Judes Mechanical valve in January 2004. His recent Echo indicated “Abnormally functioning mechanical prothesis valve….peak velocity 2.73 m/s…peak gradient 29.8 mmHg….mean gradient 13.5 mmHg, no degree of aortic stenosis is present. Mild to moderate aortic valve reguritation..aortic regurgitation pressure halftime is 531 msec and is 21mm St Judes valve. The cardiologist he now sees annually suggested he is concerned with scarring from the AVR. My questions are, keeping in mind the type of mechanical valve and date of surgery, is why is scarring an issue now? He has had annual Echos and consults every year and I am confused is this is actually a scarring issue or valve issue and how would we know which is the issue? Is surgery the only permanent issue for this?

Nancy McAleese says on February 2nd, 2012 at 7:17 am

How long has this procedure been around.

Angela says on February 6th, 2012 at 4:23 am

My 75 year old husband has severe Lewy Body Dementia. Six years ago he had a highly successful bovine mitral valve replacement. From a purely constitutional point of view, he looks set to live for ever, despite being wheelchair-ridden, in diapers, having to be washed, dressed and fed. He is asleep for about 70% of the time, which may be a blessing, but my family and I now curse the day he had cardiac surgery. His complete lack of exercise is probably not good from a cardiovascular point of view, but perhaps the amount of rest is? Are there any changes we could make to his presently healthy diet?

Jo says on February 18th, 2012 at 12:30 am

I never could ever catch my breath along with the shortness of breath. Immediately after my surgery, I could breathe and never had a problem catching my breath. Six weeks later I started all over again with the not being able to catch my breath.
What could be wrong now. I did have lung tests completed and all was fine.
thank you.

Joseph D. Comtois says on February 26th, 2012 at 7:07 pm

How much longer is an 80 year old male expected to live after a successful aortic valve replacment? Joe

Michael mccormick says on February 27th, 2012 at 9:40 am

after having AVR 20 months ago, I had to have gall bladder surgery, that required me to go off coumadin for 4 days, my INR was down to 1.3 how risky is that? I have a St Jude Mechanical.I am 52 y/o

BRENDA says on August 23rd, 2013 at 6:39 pm

3 years ago I had a mitral value replacement. took a TEE and found that the clamp is loose , resulting in leaking valve. have to go through another surgery. is this common?

Sharon Courtney says on August 26th, 2013 at 11:10 am

In September, 2011 I had a bovine aortic valve replacement. (I am now 72 years old.) An attempt to do a minimally invasive surgical replacement was unsuccessful and the doctors had to do open heart surgery afer a 1-1/2 hour attempt. About 16 months later my cardialogist did an echocardiogram (for the second time since the surgery) and advised that the new valve had narrowed. The symptoms I had for 3 years prior to the surgery have never completely gone away. I had an MRI of my lungs to see if there was a problem there and my lungs were clear. Unfortunately, I have been unable to quit smoking completely. I am to return in December, 2013 to look again at the new valve. I do have a leaking mitro valve, bur the doctor advises that it is not a problem; that it is very common. How common is it that a replacement bovine valve narrows and can I survive without more surgery?

Gloria Ann says on September 12th, 2013 at 12:39 pm

6 month follow for BCAV & regurgitation. Mild Aortic stenosi. DI=0.5. Mild aortic insufficiency. Trace Pulmonary insufficiency. Conclusions from my latest echo:Normal left ventricular systolic function. Left ventricular ejection fraction is 60%. Mild concentric left ventricular hypertrophy. Mild diastolic dysfunction. Mildly dilated left atrium. Mild aortic stenosis. Mild aortic insufficiency. Mitral annular clacification. Thickened mitral valve leaflets. Mild mitral regurgitation. Mild tricuspid regurgitation.

QUESTION: 6 month follow up with cardiologist. I feel need to see another cardiologist or cardiac surgeon for more information and what I might expect with progression of condition and potential time frame of need for surgery. Thank you for your response.

Judy Main says on October 6th, 2013 at 7:54 pm

My husband had Mitral valve surgery to repair it at Cleveland Clinic and Medicare and our supplement paid all but $12.00 and my question is if he has any further problems will Medicare pay for it and will Medicare pay for leaky valves if they continue to get worse?

Carol DiGeronimo says on January 3rd, 2014 at 6:01 pm

My husband had open heart surgery over 10 years ago, and has had 2 stents since then. In the cold weather his chest hurts and was told that perhaps the wiring causes the discomfort. Is this something you would be able to answer for me? Thank you very much.

Rajesh B Magadum says on May 31st, 2014 at 1:52 am

Respected Doctor,
I had undergone double valve replacement (Av & MV medtronic mechanical valves). I am 41 years old. now i am healthy . But i have problem with ears ,both ears have holes
one was chronic(left ear) and right side had developed post operation. I am on medication of Acitrom & ecosprin & dixin. sir my ear is giving me problem as there is discharge of water like fluid with pale yellow appearence and bad smell. and there is itiching in the ear continiously . please suggest me weather this can cured by tympanoplasty & what are the precautions and medications suggestiond .the radiographic report says “sclerosing mastoiditis on left side & Mastoiditis on Right side”.
As the doctors are not responding properly pls help me out . Thank You,

Charles Herron says on June 3rd, 2014 at 7:22 am

we are having a meeting with a general surgeon about an operation to my elderly sister (91years) She had an inflamed gall bladder a few months ago which had partially
blocked the bile duct. We were told that it could come back and that an operation to remove the gall bladder was necessary. The anesthetist explained the risks saying her breathing and heart were not in good shape. We asked for the meeting with surgeon which is today.

Many thanks Chas Herron

cheri laboeuf says on August 3rd, 2014 at 4:46 pm

my mom is 60 yrs old and has a st jude titanium valve that was put in in 2005 …it is now leaking and her dr is talking to her about a pig valve being put in but i hear alot of bad things about them failing quickly….can u please explain them to me a little bit …how safe are they and how long they usually last…what ever you think may be helpful to know would be appreciated thank you very much …cheri laboeuf

mike says on October 5th, 2014 at 11:34 pm

My mom is 70 yrs and has aortic stenosis but is being denied valve replacement due to having an decubilus ulcer and is in need for new valve. My family is in need of information of where to go for a surgeon.

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