Top 10 Heart Valve Stories of 2017

By Adam Pick on December 29, 2017

Yay! 2017 was another AMAZING year for our community!

The past 12 months was full of patient education and patient empowerment. As we get ready to enter 2018… Let’s look back at the stories that inspired, educated and connected the wonderful people in our community.



10.  Top 5 Facts: Aortic Stenosis Progression

Aortic stenosis is a wildly misunderstood form of heart disease that impacts 12% of the elderly population. To help our community learn more about this disease, we asked Dr. Kevin Accola, a leading heart valve surgeon at AdventHealth (formerly Florida Hospital), to explain the progression of aortic stenosis. Our community responded quickly and favorably to Dr. Accola’s comments with over 1,400 social shares. Learn more.


9.  Is Aortic Valve Repair A Global Phenomenon?

In October… Our “Ask Adam Anything” video series – filmed live at the Heart Valve Summit in Chicago – was a smashing success.  In this video with Dr. Vinay Badhwar, who is the Professor and Executive Chair of the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at West Virginia University Medicine, we discussed the latest breakthroughs in aortic valve repair.  Considering that most of our educational content has focused on mitral valve repair, this video zipped across the HVS social network and quickly received over 1,900 social shares. In just 3 days, this video was watched for over 12,135 minutes!


8.  Dr. McCarthy & Dr. Castro Receive 100+ Patient Testimonials

During 2017… Two extraordinary surgeons —  Dr. Patrick McCarthy of Northwestern Medicine and Dr. Luis Castro of Sequoia Hospital — reached a significant milestone in the HVS community. Each surgeon received 100+ patient testimonials!  I was honored to share this exciting news with our community which quickly generated over 2,600 social shares combined.


7.  The Surprise Post of 2017: Echocardiograms

Interestingly, the surprise post of 2017 was all about… Echocardiograms!  That’s right! On December 10, I posted an educational story about the different types of echocardiograms used to diagnose and monitor heart valve disease.  The next thing I knew, the post had over 2,700 Facebook Likes. Amazing!!!


6.  Whole Lotta Love for Tina Williams!

Shortly after her mitral valve repair surgery by Dr. Marc Gerdisch, Tina Williams shared several photos from the hospital at her journal.  When we posted Tina’s pictures at Facebook, our community showed their appreciation with many encouraging comments and 2,900+ social shares. See Tina’s Heart Valve Journal.



5.  What Happened When 60 Patients & Caregivers Met For “Patient Day 2017” at Edwards Lifesciences?

If you ever wanted to feel the power of patient communities… Then “Patient Day” is the place for you. This annual event, hosted by Edwards Lifesciences, a leading heart valve manufacturer, brings together patients from all over the world to meet each other, to share their stories and to inspire action within our community. Luckily, I was asked by Edwards to film this video to capture the special moments of this extraordinary day. No surprise… This post received 3,200+ social shares.


4.  The First National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day!

If you didn’t know, the first-ever National Heart Valve Awareness Day was celebrated on February 22, 2017.  During the day, went nuts – posting patient stories and educational content to raise awareness to valve disease. In total, we generated over 786,000 awareness impressions all over the world. To support this effort, I created this special video – with Robyn, my wife, and Ethan, my son – which received over 3,300 social shares.



3.  1,000 TAVRs for The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano!

The use of transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) for the replacement of diseased aortic valves is always an exciting topic in our community. However, I had no idea that this post about Dr. Michael Mack, Dr. David Brown and the 1,000th TAVR performed by The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano would generate over 3,600 Facebook Likes. Learn more.



2.  Thanks to the MitraClip, Kato Celebrates 100th Birthday

In July… I was so excited to announce that Kato Pomer, a MitraClip recipient in 1992 and beloved community member, had celebrated her 100th birthday.  Kato’s post soared across the HVS network and received over 3,700 Facebook Likes. Later this year, I learned that Kato was featured in a national media campaign by Abbott Laboratories, the manufacturer of the MitraClip. See Kato’s Story.




1. Bob’s Two “Thumbs-Up” Trigger 6,500 Social Shares

With over 6,500 social shares, Bob Jensen’s patient photo claimed the number one spot during 2017.  Shortly after aortic valve surgery, Bob flashed our community two “thumbs-up” from the intensive care unit.  In less than 24 hours, Bob’s picture was seen by over 66,000 patients in our community. Inspirational patient pictures and the Internet never cease to amaze me!



Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

As 2017 comes to an end, I want to extend an extraordinary thanks to all members of this community – the patients, the families, the friends, the caregivers, the doctors, the nurses, the clinic coordinators, the cardiac centers, the medical device manufacturers, and, of course, our sponsors. Your support of continues to touch, move and inspire me!!!

Keep on tickin’ and… Happy New Year!

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 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 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.

Gordon Frisbey says on December 29th, 2017 at 5:24 pm

My hat is off to all these people that had open heart surgery. I had the TAVR procedure and I drove home from the hospital the next day. I hope in 2018 each patient looks at the possibility of having TAVR instead of open heart. I can not even imagine the about of suffering that would not have to happen.

Steve35 says on December 29th, 2017 at 9:37 pm

OHS is not as bad as it seems; just very tiring for several months. TAVR is mostly done for very old patients and those who might be too ill or weak for OHS where there is more control for the surgeons.

Gordon Frisbey says on December 29th, 2017 at 11:32 pm

When you compare “just very tiring for several months” to drive yourself home the next day it looks like a no brainer for TAVR. Your statement about the old is not true now. I was told I was not sick enough for TAVR. I had to fight to get it done but it was very worth it. It is true that only one level of condition is not approved by the FDA and Medicare but private insurance will okay it for patients if pushed. Also, the FDA has now approved the Sapien 3 to be used in TAVR if the replaced valve goes bad.
I hope you are feeling better than before your heart problems and again I congratulate you being a survivor.

Debra Smith Fenton says on December 30th, 2017 at 7:05 am

Can an aneurysm be taken care of during this operation? It is in aorta line near opening going down into the heart?

Susan Krusheski Scalabrino says on December 30th, 2017 at 10:17 am

Thank you, Adam, for your most supportive newsletter. I discovered it two years ago when first diagnosed with aortic stenosis. What a shock! I considered myself healthy and strong and was living a healthy lifestyle. At age 72, I am now two months post minimal sternotomy surgery, still reading your newsletter, and still in need of its support. It is the best source of up to date information – from you and your contacts and from others who experience the same condition. The emotional aspects have been the most difficult to deal with for me, and I identify with the sense of loneliness that has been described by others

Adam says on December 30th, 2017 at 10:43 am

Susan, You just made my day! Thanks so much for your kind words. I am so happy the newsletter and website has been a source of education and empowerment for you. Like you, I struggled with some of the emotional elements of the surgical cycle — before, during and after surgery. So you know, that is why I started this website. To help connect people and fight the “sense of loneliness” you describe above. My thoughts are with you now and in the new year. Thanks again, Adam

Adam says on December 30th, 2017 at 10:44 am

Hi Debra, Yes. Heart surgery can include a valve procedure and an aneurysm procedure during a single operation. You can learn more about this at the link below. I hope that helps!

Adam says on December 30th, 2017 at 10:47 am

No doubt Gordon. The advances in minimally invasive procedures, like TAVR, are fantastic. I’m thrilled to hear that you had such a great result with TAVR. Currently, however, TAVR is only available to select patient groups including inoperable, high-risk and intermediate risk patients. That said, there are clinical trials investigating its safety and effectiveness in low-risk as well. Hopefully in time this technology will become available to all.

Here’s more about TAVR:

Steve35 says on December 31st, 2017 at 11:25 am

I live in France. They never would have done TAVR on me to change my aortic valve, even if I had pushed them. I was 53 and otherwise in good health. I feel pretty normal now, yes. Happy New year!

Gordon Frisbey says on December 31st, 2017 at 11:36 am

You are generally correct in your statement. However, I found it is not about the risk of the patient as much as about who is going to pay for the procedure. Medicare follows what you are stating and will not pay for it. Many other insurance companies follow there lead. When my doctor found out I was not under Medicare the story changed drastically. I went to my insurance company and got approved for the procedure the next day.
I think your website is a great help for people to understand how to get thru the heart valve problem. I hope that the test on the low risk group that is going on now will allow all the people to have the option of TAVR.
Keep up the good work. I have appreciated your website and the people that have shared their stories.

Gordon Frisbey says on December 31st, 2017 at 11:59 am

I am happy you are feeling good. In my research I believe TAVR was done in France first. Is that really true? My understanding is that TAVR was done in France 2 years before the US.

Stephen Williston says on January 2nd, 2018 at 10:50 am

Thank you. I really don’t know if it was done there first; it’s possible. I know the French invented the “stent”. Besides my AVR with a mechanical valve, they also took advantage to make some other “minor repairs ” during OHS. (same person, different profile).

Stephen Williston says on January 2nd, 2018 at 10:54 am

What exactly did you have done? Repair? AVR? Tissue? Mechanical?

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