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.
Whether you want to make great memories by sharing these activities with your family or want to find some time for yourself, this is your life, and it’s time to live it.
By Adam Pick on November 19, 2014
Finding a great surgeon and experienced cardiac center is beyond critical for patients needing heart valve surgery. However, the process of acquiring trusted and reliable information about medical providers can sometimes be an uphill battle.
So… In case you missed the recent announcement, Consumer Reports just published their first-ever rankings for heart surgery programs in the United States. In total, over 400 hospitals are included in Consumer Reports’ list. To read the whole story, click here.
By Adam Pick on November 17, 2014
By Adam Pick on November 11, 2014
On a day when we honor the people who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, I wanted to salute Ray Tollefson from Michigan. Ray, who is 89 years old, was an Army Ranger during the infamous landing at Normandy during World War II, which is most commonly referred to as D-Day on June 6, 1944.
Here’s a great video to help you learn more about Ray’s heroic story and his recent transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedure (TAVR) at the University of Michigan.
Many thanks to Ray and all of the people of the U.S. Armed Forces — past, present and future — for their courage, their bravery, and their resolve to protect this country.
Happy Veteran’s Day!
By Adam Pick on November 8, 2014
There is nothing better than a great patient success story. So, when I received this update from Shannon about babies, bicuspid aortic valves, mechanical valve replacements and Coumadin, I just had to post it. Here is what Shannon wrote to me…
I know it has been some time since I last wrote to you with an update. I’m not even sure where I left off last time. =) Quick recap: I had an aortic aneurysm repair done in May 2009 at Emory University Hospital. Shortly after this surgery, I wrote you looking for advice on getting pregnant with a bicuspid aortic valve. WELL….. I am happy to report that it was very possible! I gave birth to my son in March 2011! I had no complications but was monitored VERY closely by my excellent team of doctors in Tallahassee, Florida. (I did have a scheduled C-section.)
Shannon with Tanner and Ava
Shortly after Tanner’s first birthday, I started experiencing some breathing complications. It was determined that it was time to replace my aortic valve. After a lot of thought and prayers, my family and I decided that it would be best to get a mechanical valve since this was my second open heart surgery in three years.
By Adam Pick on October 30, 2014
As heart valve disease can progress at different rates, patients are often confused by a very important question… When is the right time to have heart valve surgery?
To answer that question, I am super excited to announce that Dr. Robert Bonow, past president of the American Heart Association, and Dr. Patrick McCarthy, chief of cardiac surgery at Northwestern Medicine, will be hosting a special one-hour webinar, “Timing Heart Valve Surgery” on Wednesday, November 12, at 4:30pm CST.
More good news! The webinar is free for everybody. However, space is limited to the first 100 registrants. To register now, click here.
This event will provide special patient insights into the management and treatment of valvular disorders. During the webinar, we will also have a live “Questions & Answers” session where you can ask questions to Drs. Bonow and McCarthy.
So you know, Dr. Robert Bonow, is a world-renown cardiologist who specializes in medical treatment for valve disease and a past chair of the American College of Cardiology / American Heart Association Task Force of Practice Guidelines of Patients with Valvular Disease. Dr. Patrick McCarthy is a heart valve guru having performed over 10,000 cardiac procedures. Currently, Dr. McCarthy is the #1 recommended heart valve surgeon at our Surgeon Finder.
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on October 27, 2014
Not that long ago, people who underwent heart valve or other cardiovascular surgery had to wait until their next doctor’s appointment to monitor their heart health. Granted, you probably could have purchased an at-home blood pressure monitor or visited the local pharmacy… But, that was about the extent of it.
Now, thanks to some pretty amazing apps and other smartphone-related technology, your mobile phone can help you do much more than text or make calls. As Harvard Health Publications notes, hundreds of heart health apps are now available, and some of them use the impressive technology inside the phones to allow people to take charge of their cardiovascular health. Consider the following four examples:
By Adam Pick on October 21, 2014
As we learned in our recent post, Atrial Fibrillation: 5 Facts Valve Patients Should Know, it is very important for patients with valvular disorders to learn why and how atrial fibrillation (AFib) can impact the functioning of their heart and their surgical treatment. Shortly after posting, I received an excellent follow-up question from Robert about the potential connection between AFib and, specifically, the aortic valve. In Robert’s comment, he writes, “Adam, Was there any discussion of relationships between AFib and aortic valves, valve regurgitation, etc.?”
To provide Robert an expert opinion, I contacted Dr. Niv Ad, a leading cardiac surgeon at White Oak Medical Center in Maryland. As you might know, Dr. Ad is an AFib specialist who has published many research papers on this subject. In addition, Dr. Ad is an incredible patient advocate who hosts an annual AFib Patient Reunion which I’ve been fortunate to attend in the past.
By Adam Pick on October 8, 2014
I recently saw a great question posted at John’s heart valve journal. So you know, John is scheduled for aortic valve surgery on October 17. In his post, John asked, “Since I already know that I have aortic valve stenosis — and need it replaced — why do I have to go through an angiogram?”
Angiogram Image, John & His Wife
I wanted to provide John an expert response to his question. So, I contacted Dr. John Grehan, a heart valve specialist from United Healthcare in St. Paul, Minnesota.
By Adam Pick on October 6, 2014
In connection with the recent relaunch of HeartValveSurgery.com, I am excited to introduce you to Heart Valve Journals 2.0. As you may know, Heart Valve Journals (HVJ) is a special online community of patients, their family members and friends. We started HVJ, in 2009, to help patients meet and learn from each other. Since then, HVJ has helped 1000’s of people — from diagnosis through recovery.
To help you learn about all the new features and capabilities of Heart Valve Journals community, I made this video guide.
Again, I want to thank all the community members for their feedback, support, encouragement and… criticism.
By Adam Pick on September 29, 2014
If you didn’t know, September is National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month. As up to 35% of patients in our community have heart valve disease AND atrial fibrillation, here are 6 important facts about atrial fibrillation.
1. What is Atrial Fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained arrhythmia encountered in clinical practice. Its incidence increases with age and the presence of structural heart disease – like valvular disorders including mitral regurgitation. Stroke and heart failure may result patients with atrial fibrillation.
By Adam Pick on September 26, 2014
Here’s a real quick and important tip for all existing users of Heart Valve Journals in the ‘My Community’ section of the relaunched website….
PLEASE… PLEASE LOGIN USING YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS AND PASSWORD!!!
By Adam Pick on September 10, 2014
Great news! Next Tuesday, September 16, I’ll be speaking at the “Bicuspid Aortic Valve — Beyond The Basics” conference in Chicago. The event, which is hosted by Northwestern Medicine’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and Lurie Children’s Hospital is going to be an incredible experience with several leading BAV specialists including Dr. Puthumana, Dr. Fedak, Dr. Young and Dr. Malaisrie.
Please see the the flyer below for details. To register, click here.
Also, if you have just been diagnosed with a bicuspid valve — which is the most common congenital defect affecting up to 2% of the population — here’s a great educational video about BAV with Dr. Paul Fedak.
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.
Health benefits of tai chi
Over the past several decades, the Chinese martial art known as tai chi has become recognized as an alternative to traditional exercise programs. People of all ages have embraced the low-intensity movements that tai chi offers. As WebMD notes, practicing tai chi on a regular basis can help the body in a number of ways. It improves balance and strength, helps improve mood and reduces chronic pain and discomfort. Tai chi may also help to decrease blood pressure while also boosting cardiovascular function.
By Adam Pick on August 22, 2014
Great news everybody!!!
Thanks to your excellent feedback, ideas and suggestions, we just relaunched HeartValveSurgery.com with over 200 new features.
So you know, our team has been working on this project for 10 months. That said, we are very hopeful that this new interactive platform will educate and empower you through heart valve surgery.
To help you learn about some of the highlights of the new website, I just posted this video. (For the hearing impaired members of our community, you can read the video transcript posted below.)
By Adam Pick on August 12, 2014
Just last week, I was talking to Paul, my neighbor, about our ‘Top 5 Actors’ of all time. With movies like Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society, Good Morning Vietnam, and The World According to Garp, the comedian and Oscar-award winning actor, Robin Williams topped my list.
Robin Williams (1951-2014)
I’m guessing that some of you might think I’m a tad bias towards Robin Williams — considering that he had aortic valve replacement and mitral valve repair surgery in 2009. But, the truth is… Robin Williams’ valvular work, or “plumbing” as he called it, had zero impact on my discussion with Paul.
By Adam Pick on August 4, 2014
I just received several excellent questions from Mary about bicuspid aortic valve replacement, aorta size and heart valve replacement devices. In her email, Mary writes, “Hi Adam – I want to know whether an enlarged aorta returns to normal after bicuspid valve replacement. Also do you have an opinion as to which is better, bovine or mechanical valve. Thank you.”
To help Mary, I contacted Dr. John Kern, who is the Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Virginia Health System. So you know, Dr. Kern has successfully treated several members from our community including Todd Breeden.
In his response, Dr. Kern first answered Mary’s question about the size of the aorta following a bicuspid aortic valve replacement operation:
By Adam Pick on July 24, 2014
I recently received a great question from Elaine about child birth, heart valve disorders and dilated aortic roots. In her email, Elaine writes, “Hi Adam – I have a bicuspid aortic valve and a dilated root of 4.2cm. I am currently 29 weeks pregnant. I was wondering if anyone else has a diagnosis similar to mine and if they were able to deliver naturally instead of C-section?”
Elaine asks a great question. I wanted to get her an expert response, so I contacted Dr. James Wudel, who is a leading heart valve surgeon at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Dr. Wudel, who is a very nice guy, specializes in minimally invasive and transcatheter procedures like TAVR and the MitraClip.
In his response, Dr. Wudel first addressed Elaine’s diagnosis of a bicuspid aortic valve:
By Adam Pick on July 18, 2014
Yesterday, we had an extraordinary webinar with Dr. Allan Stewart about the newest surgical techniques and minimally invasive medical devices for aortic valve and aortic aneurysm surgery. In total, over 300 patients registered for the event!!!
In case you missed this very important webinar, I created a FREE 43-page eBook that you can download right now by clicking here.
Yes, The Webinar Video Is Ready Too!
And… As many of you like to watch the webinar videos instead of reading the transcript, I also created a video recording of the video. You can watch the webinar video by clicking here.
On behalf of our patient and caregiver community, I want to extend a special thanks to Dr. Allan Stewart for sharing their clinical research and patient experiences with our community.
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on July 9, 2014
I received a great question from Brent about exercise after heart valve surgery. In his email, Brent writes to me, “Adam – I’m an active guy who likes to play racquetball, swim, hike, bike, golf and bowl. I was diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis and recently told I need surgery. I feel pretty darn good at 66 even though I do get winded a little easier these days. How long after surgery can I do all the things I’m doing now? Is there anything I should do after surgery to help me exercise sooner than later? Thanks, Brent”
To provide Brent a great answer, I contacted Dr. Rawn Salenger, a heart valve surgeon from the University of Maryland, who has a clinical interest in how patient recovery from heart surgery. So you know, Dr. Salenger is an incredibly nice guy, who has successfully operated on many patients from our community including Kathleen Ryan, Gene Bove and Jeffrey Moore.
In Dr. Salenger’s response to Brent’s question, he starts by discussing the advantages of heart valve surgery and the time needed for the sternum to heal: