“Is Heart Valve Surgery Common For Elderly Patients?” Asks Wanda

Prior to the Heart Valve Summit, Wanda sent me two great questions. She wrote, “Adam – What is the oldest person that a surgeon has operated on? Is it common for the elderly to have heart valve surgery? Thanks! Wanda”

As I receive this question often — from patients and caregivers — I wanted to provide Wanda an expert opinion. For that reason, I met with Dr. Steven Bolling, heart surgeon and Director of The Mitral Valve Clinic at the University of Michigan. Here are the highlights from our discussion.



Thanks to Wanda for her questions and a special “Thank You” to Dr. Steven Bolling for sharing his clinical expertise with us.

For those of you who are hearing impaired, I have provided a transcript of this video below.

Keep on tickin!

P.S. Here is the video transcript:

Adam: “We’re here in Chicago, Illinois, we’re answering your questions that were put up at HeartValveBlog.com. We have a question that came in from Wanda. Before we get the question, I want to introduce Dr. Steven Bolling, MD, who is the director of the Mitral Valve Clinic at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. Dr. Bolling, if I understand this right… You have now done over 8,000 procedures, cardiac is that correct? And of those, how many have dealt with valves?”

Dr. Steven Bolling: “Probably just shy of 4,000 of those have been mitral valve procedures.”

Adam: “Wow, so we are definitely talking to somebody who’s skilled at heart valve surgery, and this question is perfect for someone like you. Given your experience, which is vast, Wanda asks: What is the oldest person that you have operated on, and is it common for elderly to have heart surgery?”

Dr. Bolling: “Well that’s a very good question. Wanda, that’s a good question. The oldest person I have done mitral valve repair surgery on is 100 years old. Now, that sounds like very old but it wasn’t. And, again it’s far more common nowadays for patients in their 80’s and 90’s to be considered for surgery. For two reasons: one, we’re living longer of course, and also there’s a reason why that patient usually makes it to the 80’s and 90’s, they usually don’t have too many other co-morbid diseases, they’re not sick from something else. The other question though, and a good point to be made, is that it’s really not the patients age. Of course, you know there are 80 year olds and there are 80 year olds. We would much rather operate on a well and healthy 80 year old then a sick 20 year old, in a certain way. So age, in no way, is a contraindication to surgery, just like for everything else we have to individualize on the patient.”

Adam: “As always, great input. I know that helped me be astounded by 100 years old, and that was an open heart procedure, that wasn’t transcatheter?”

Doctor Steven Bolling: “Nope, that was an open heart. The patient did fine.”

Adam: “Great! Keep up all the great work at the University of Michigan and thanks for stopping by.”

Dr. Bolling: “Thanks for having me.”

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 HeartValveSurgery.com.

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