Recovery Blog

By Adam Pick

Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe After Heart Valve & Aortic Aneurysm Surgery?

Written By: Adam Pick, Patient Advocate, Author & Website Founder

Published: January 3, 2021

I’m getting LOTS and LOTS of great patient questions about the COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.  Many of the questions are about the safety, efficacy and potential side-effects of these new COVID vaccines for patients who previously had a heart valve replacement implanted, a heart valve repair operation and/or an aortic root reconstruction for an aneurysm.

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Sternum Wires: Can I Get an MRI After Heart Surgery? What About Chest Wire Removal?

By Adam Pick on April 13, 2020

I just received two excellent questions about sternum wires and heart surgery from Kelly and Bob.

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Technology Update: Can a “Leadless” Pacemaker Fix a Leaking Heart Valve?

By Adam Pick on January 27, 2020

I just received a fascinating question from Shae about leadless pacemakers and leaking heart valves.

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“Can Bicycle Riding Wear Out My Heart Valves?” asks Mort

By Adam Pick on November 4, 2019

I just received a great question form Mort about exercise, biking and heart valve durability.  Mort asked me, “Adam, Will long distance bicycle riding – approximately 12 hours a week – prematurely wear out an aortic or mitral valve replacement made from porcine tissue?”

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“What About Flu Shots for Heart Surgery Patients?” asks Cheryl

By Adam Pick on October 21, 2019

I just received a timely and important question from Cheryl about flu shots and heart surgery.  In her email, Cheryl asked me, “Hi Adam – Can I get a flu shot, varicella and pneumococcal vaccines just 6 weeks after mitral valve replacement using a pig tissue valve?”

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“Is Congestive Heart Failure Common After Heart Valve Surgery?” asks Shae

By Adam Pick on September 24, 2019

I just received a great question from Shae, a patient, about congestive heart failure after heart valve surgery.

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New Study: Heart Surgery Not Linked to Memory Decline

By Adam Pick on January 17, 2019

Over the years, we’ve had several discussions about cognitive issues following heart surgery. Several patients in our community have complained of “pumphead”.  Patients often describe pumphead as forgetfulness and/or memory loss that is potentially attributable to heart-lung machine use during open-heart procedures.  At the same time, many patients in our community have not noticed any changes in mental capabilities following heart surgery.

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Cardiac Depression: What Should Patients Know?

By Adam Pick on February 11, 2018

For many patients, cardiac depression can be an unexpected and dislocating reality after heart surgery. Personally, I suffered from an extreme case of cardiac depression. My outlook was dismal. I had no energy. I felt alone and lifeless. Thankfully… That changed when I learned about cardiac rehabilitation classes and when I saw a therapist.

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“What Should Patients Know About Pumphead?” asks Pam

By Adam Pick on January 26, 2018

For patients needing open heart surgery…  The use of a heart-lung machine, also known as the “Pump”, is required to circulate blood while the heart is stopped, fixed and then restarted. The use of the Pump, however, has unfortunately been associated with cognitive issues – forgetfulness, poor attention span, fogginess, reduced speed of movement – following surgery.

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Cardiologist Q&A: How Should I Take Care Of My Heart After Surgery?

By Adam Pick on January 11, 2018

Karen asked me a great question about taking care of her heart after valve surgery. Her note read, “Hi Adam – I am now approaching my fourth anniversary of mitral valve repair, tricuspid valve repair, and ASD closure. Are there things patients should be aware of as the years go by? How often should we have things performed, like echocardiograms, dental prophylaxis, blood thinners, and any blood work?”

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“What About Sternum Healing, Wires & Infection After Heart Surgery?” asks Joachim

By Adam Pick on December 12, 2017

At the Heart Valve Summit, I received a great question about sternum healing, wires and infection.  Joachim asked me, “Publications have revealed that 50 to 80% of sternal infections are discovered after discharge, and that cardiac patients have the highest readmission rates. Since the sternal wires are the only force holding the sternum together after surgery, why is it that external chest supports are not a standard, adjunctive, and precautionary procedure after surgery?”

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Doctor Q&A: When Can I Return to Normal Activity After Heart Surgery?

By Adam Pick on January 13, 2017

It is one of the best and most common questions I receive from patients. That fantastic question is, “When can I return to normal activity after heart surgery?”

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Surgeon Q&A: Is Ventricular Tachycardia Common after Heart Valve Surgery?

By Adam Pick on May 10, 2016

I just received a great question from Lisa about ventricular tachycardia and heart valve surgery. Lisa asked me, “I was born with tetralogy of fallot and had two heart surgeries before the age of 6. I just had my 3rd surgery at 46 to put in a pulmonary valve. Now, 3 years later, I’m being sent to a specialist to talk about ventricular tachycardia. Is this common with patients like me?”

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Surgeon Q&A: What Percent of Patients Get Pacemakers After Heart Valve Surgery?

By Adam Pick on April 14, 2016

I recently received a great question from Lori about pacemakers and heart valve surgery. Lori posted at our Facebook page, “Adam, what percentage of patients need pacemakers after valve surgery?”

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The Patient Mind: Before, During & After Heart Surgery

By Adam Pick on February 24, 2016

As many patients and families will tell you… The heart valve surgery process can be an emotional roller coaster. As I personally experienced, there can be wonderful highs (waking up with a fixed heart) and there can be unexpected lows (cardiac depression).

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Cardiologist Q&A: What Should You Know About Atrioventricular Block After Heart Valve Surgery?

By Adam Pick on December 9, 2015

I received several great questions during our ‘Ask Me Anything’ video series at the Heart Valve Summit. For example, Pamela posted at our Facebook page, “Can you talk about Atrioventricular Block after heart valve surgery?”

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“What About Sternal Nonunion After Heart Surgery?” asks John

By Adam Pick on February 24, 2015

I just received a great question from John about sternal clicking after open heart surgery.

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Patient Q&A: How Fast Does A Heart Surgery Incision Heal?

By Adam Pick on February 5, 2015

I often receive the question, “How fast does a heart surgery incision heal?”

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4 Hobbies to Make You Happy After Surgery

By Adam Pick on November 20, 2014

Now is the time to maximize your longevity and invigorate your vitality by finding activities that nourish your soul. As you recover from surgery, ask yourself what you’ve always wanted to do or what you want to do more of. There are plenty of hobbies that don’t require too much physical exertion and can be great for stimulating your mind.

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Tai Chi: The Ideal Exercise Option for Heart Surgery Patients?

By Adam Pick on September 3, 2014

Doctors perform more than five million heart surgeries every year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These range from stent insertions and open-heart procedures to angioplasties and other cardiovascular procedures. As part of these patients’ recovery plans, many physicians recommend some type of light exercise program. If you’ve undergone heart-related surgery and are looking for a way to be active, tai chi is a terrific option.

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