By Adam Pick on February 5, 2015
I often receive the question, “How fast does a heart surgery incision heal?”
It’s a great question. Unfortunately, I don’t have a precise answer considering that (i) we all heal at different rates and (ii) many of us will have different incision types — from a full sternotomy to a mini-sternotomy to a thoracotomy, etc.
Cristen Marzula – Heart Valve Surgery Patient
That said, Cristen Marzula, from Memphis, Tennessee, just posted an awesome picture in her heart valve journal about the rate at which her incision healed. In the picture below, you will see that Cristen compares her incision 3 days after surgery to a picture of her incision 5 weeks after surgery.
By Adam Pick on January 26, 2015
I’m very fortunate to meet many patients with heart valve disease. It’s always interesting to hear how each patient has a unique story specific to their valvular disorder.
Stella McClellan is a perfect example of this phenomena. Within 30 seconds of meeting Stella, I was captivated by her story. I mean… When someone tells you they were about to die from aortic stenosis, how can you not want to learn more. This is Stella’s patient success story thanks to a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).
By Adam Pick on January 21, 2015
As many of you know, I am an optimist.
I truly believe that every dark tunnel — no matter how dark — has light at the end of it. I truly believe that for every situation — no matter how unfortunate it may be — there is something to learn from, something to grow from, something to challenge ourselves with.
However, this optimism has its moments. My hopes are tested. And, my resolve to stay positive can feel completely dislocating.
During the past 30 days, I experienced two of these foreign moments.
By Adam Pick on December 31, 2014
During 2014, our community actively discussed many topics specific to the management and the treatment of heart valve disease. As we prepare to enter 2015, I thought it might be helpful to look back at the stories that generated the most interest and social sharing during the past twelve months.
By Adam Pick on December 30, 2014
As many of the gift giving holidays just passed, there is no better time to start focusing on a healthy new year. That said, here are a 5 healthy gift ideas (and tips) to help you — and those around you — during 2015!
So you know… The CDC states that an unbelievable 26.6 million adults in the United States are diagnosed with heart disease. If your parent, spouse, child or friend has shown an interest in adopting a healthier lifestyle, this is a prime opportunity to help them on their way. When the time comes for gift-giving, be it a holiday, birthday or other celebration, you can support their efforts with these five gift ideas that will keep your loved ones going strong on the journey for better health.
1. Make Nutrition Easy
There’s an old adage that says, “You can’t out-train a bad diet.” The nutrition piece of the wellbeing puzzle is an especially important part that is often the most difficult for health-seekers. Poor eating habits are hard to break, and even the slightest enticing treat can throw someone entirely off track. Many people find that nutritious meals take more time to make, and cost more money, so are less incited to make the effort. But you can change this.
Surgeon Q&A: “Can Aortic Stenosis and Aortic Regurgitation Result in Over Exertion & High Stress?” Asks Mark
By Adam Pick on December 12, 2014
I just received a great question from Mark about symptoms and potential, patient limitations relating to aortic stenosis and aortic regurgitation.
In his email, Mark writes, “Adam, I was diagnosed in 1999 with Aortic Regurgitation at age 47 and receive annual echos and check up. This year 2014 at age 62, I was diagnosed with Aortic Stenosis, I believe moderate at 1.2 to 1.5 CM2. I have reported to my cardiologist mild shortness of breath and very regular and annoying palpations. My job is high stress and at times includes extreme over exertion. I can’t seem to keep up and at times feel very fatigued, short of breath and ill. My cardiologist is great, but he said my age may be the primary reason, not my heart disease. My primary care physician tends to disagree and thinks my Aortic Stenosis is primarily responsible. My question is with moderate aortic stenosis and aortic regurgitation, is there risk to extreme over exertion, and high stress? I am asking for your opinion because of your knowledge on the subject.”
I wanted to provide Mark an expert response to his question so I contacted Dr. Jeff Gibson, a cardiac surgeon from Nashville, Tennessee. So you know, Dr. Gibson has treated many members of our community including LaTonya Blair, Thomas Bryant and Carol Chandler. 🙂
Webinar Announced: “Advances in Mitral Valve Surgery & Valve Management Guidelines” with Dr. Adams, Dr. Nishimura & Me on December 19
By Adam Pick on December 11, 2014
I am very excited to announce that Dr. David Adams, the Program Director of The Mount Sinai Hospital’s Mitral Valve Repair Reference Center, and Dr. Rick Nishimura, Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, will be hosting a special one-hour webinar on Friday, December 19, at 12:0pm EST.
The webinar, “Advances in Mitral Valve Surgery & Valve Management Guidelines”, will help educate patients, their families and friends about the latest techniques for treating mitral valve disorders including mitral regurgitation. Plus, Drs. Adams and Nishimura will also address the latest 2014 Valve Management Guidelines that help cardiologists, surgeons and patients with their specific heart valve disorder.
More good news… The webinar is free for everybody. To register now, click here.
I forgot to mention… During the webinar, you will have an opportunity to ask Drs. Adams and Nishimura questions in real-time. That said, this is an excellent opportunity to get your questions answered from two valve gurus!!!
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on November 25, 2014
If you, or someone you know, have been diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve (BAV), this post is for you. Let me explain…
I recently attended and spoke at the 2nd Annual Bicuspid Aortic Valve Conference in Chicago, Illinois. During this special conference — which was created for patients, their families and friends — several BAV specialists shared their latest research and clinical experiences specific to the management and treatment of bicuspid aortic valves. The conference was amazing. And, I was super excited to meet many patients from our website at the event.
By Adam Pick on November 25, 2014
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Everything about the holiday speaks to what I cherish most about life — family, fun friends, tasty food and… football. 🙂
As we prepare for Thanksgiving, I wanted to thank each of you for your support, inspiration, encouragement and participation at HeartValveSurgery.com. Together, we are educating and empowering patients, their families and friends — all over the world. For that, I am very, very, very, very thankful!
On behalf of Robyn, my wife, and Ethan, my 5-year old son, we are wishing you the happiest of holidays!!!
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on November 20, 2014
I am very excited to announce that Carilion Clinic just launched a Heart Valve Clinic Microsite at HeartValveSurgery.com!
If you didn’t know… Carilion, which is located in Roanoke, Virginia, has been performing heart procedures for more than 30 years. Many patients from our community — including Michael Siska and Bobby Broughman — have had great surgical outcomes at Carilion.
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.