By Adam Pick on June 12, 2014
As we have previously discussed, the heart valve surgery process — from diagnosis to recovery — can be isolating for patients.
Often times, patients say to me, “Adam – I felt like a number, not a person, during this process.” Patients have also shared that the medical system is too overwhelming to deal with. As a result, patients can become frustrated during an already stressful time in their lives.
Needless to say… This is not good for patients, their families and friends.
It is for these reasons that I perked up during a recent discussion with Dr. Hakob Davtyan, a leading cardiac surgeon who has performed over 2,000 heart valve procedures. During our chat, Dr. Davtyan shared a unique approach to patient care in which he strives to create a personal connection with each patient — as if the patient was a member of Dr. Davtyan’s own family.
To illustrate how this approach is helping patients achieve excellent surgical results, I created this video.
By Adam Pick on June 3, 2014
As a follow-up to our recent discussion about Metoprolol, I received this question from John about beta blockers and mitral valve repair surgery. In his email, John writes, “Is there any convincing evidence for using beta blockers following mitral valve surgery? What are the advantages? Or, is this just protocol? Thanks! John”
To provide Jim an expert opinion, I contacted Dr. Federico Milla of the Marcus Heart Valve Center at Piedmont Heart Institute in Atlanta, Georgia. As you might recall, Doctor Milla is a mitral valve repair specialist who I saw perform several MVRs in the Dominican Republic last year.
Here is Dr. Milla’s response to John. First, he addressed medical research about beta blockers and mitral valve surgery:
By Adam Pick on June 2, 2014
[Update: Please note that Dr. Allan Stewart is no longer performing surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital.]
If there is one thing I know about Dr. Allan Stewart, it is that he goes the extra mile for his patients — metaphorically and physically.
Dr. Stewart & Greg O’Keeffe (Patient) Complete Triathlon Together
As one of the first surgeons to support this project — way back in 2009 — Dr. Stewart has rallied around our mission to educate and empower patients.
By Adam Pick on May 27, 2014
I just received several great questions from Vielka about the use of Metoprolol after heart valve surgery. In her email, Vielka was interested to learn “Why patients take Metoprolol after heart valve surgery?”, “Is it common for patients to take Metoprolol after the operation?” and “How long do patients stay on Metoprolol after surgery?”
To get Vielka an expert response, I contacted Dr. Irving Kron, the Chair, Department of Surgery, at the University of Virginia Health System, and a key member of the UVA Advanced Cardiac Valve Center.
By Adam Pick on May 21, 2014
As most of you know…
I did not start this website to win any kind of recognition, trophy or award. I started this website to help people — like you & me — who were dealing with heart valve disease. That said, it did feel very nice to receive the following acknowledgment from Pacific Medical Training earlier today.
If you click here, you can see that HeartValveSurgery.com was just named a “Best Cardiac & Heart Website” for 2014 by PMT.
Many thanks to you for being the main reason why so many people use this website. It is through your care, support, encouragement and interactions that we are collectively helping so many patients, family members and friends all over the world.
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on May 19, 2014
Sorry for the late notice, but…
Tomorrow, I’ll be speaking at the California Women’s Conference at the Long Beach Convention Center. The conference, which has been going on for over 30 years, has several great speakers this year including Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Ariana Huffington (The Huffington Post).
If you are going to the conference, I’m scheduled to speak at 3:45pm in the Seaside Room #4.
Hope to see you there!
By Adam Pick on May 19, 2014
After I posted the story about my recent Fitbit experience, I received several encouraging comments about the habits and the behaviors that promote a long, healthy life.
In thinking about further… I think we can agree that fatigue, decreased muscle density and reduced flexibility are all proponents of aging. However, the better care you take of your body, the longer you’ll be able to enjoy the activities you love. At any age, staying healthy means eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly and taking care of your mind, body and spirit. Extend and enjoy your life by implementing one or all of the following tips:
By Adam Pick on May 14, 2014
If you didn’t know, I moderate all of the patient recommendations we receive at our Surgeon Finder. Earlier today, I saw a testimonial from Irvin that made me think, “That’s incredible! I gotta share this with our community!”
So, without further ado, here is what Irvin posted: Luckily, Dr. Richard Shemin took on my case which was a #9 in difficulty (10 being the most difficult!). He performed my 5th open-heart surgery while I was in kidney and liver failure from my heart valves being in shambles and not getting blood to my organs. I had 7 previous heart surgeries. Four were aortic valve replacements and 3 where pacemaker surgeries all from the time I was age 21 due to a congenital defect in my aortic valve.
After one of my last surgeries in 2003, I finally went through a 10 year period of fairly good health. I was even able to lift weights, and worked up to bench pressing up to 250 lbs. Then, in February of 2013, at the age of 59, I wasn’t feeling well. But, I didn’t know why. I eventually saw a kidney specialist who told me that I was in 4th stage kidney failure. My wife and I were shocked!
By Adam Pick on May 6, 2014
As a patient, I distinctly remember the questions that raced through my brain when I learned that I needed open heart surgery. Those questions sounded a little something like “How do they fix my valve?” and “What will the recovery be like?” and “Will it hurt?” and, of course, “Is heart valve surgery safe?”
That last question about safety is critically important for many reasons. So, to learn more about the safety of heart valve procedures, I met with Dr. Christopher Gibson. During our conversation, Dr. Gibson shared many insights about how technology has enhanced the safety and the mortality rates of valvular procedures.
I hope this video helped you learn how technology is improving the safety and the mortality rates of open heart procedures including heart valve operations.
By Adam Pick on May 1, 2014
Years ago, I learned about a unique product designed to help patients take care of their incision after surgery. The device, called the Incision Shield, protects your incision against unwanted pressure and ensures that no materials (e.g. clothing or linens) rub up against your scar. To see what patients thought about the Incision Shield, I gave away 30 Incision Shields to the members of our community. The response was fantastic.
A few days ago, I spoke with Dennis, a patient, about his experience with the Incision Shield. Dennis was so excited about the impact of the Incision Shield on his recovery, he ordered 15 more Incision Shields to give away to other heart valve patients.
In a follow-up email, Dennis wrote to me:
By Adam Pick on April 24, 2014
I am very excited to announce that the Inland Empire Heart & Vascular Institute at St. Bernardine Medical Center just launched a new Heart Valve Clinic Microsite at HeartValveSurgery.com. So you know, many patients from our community — including Fred Stieg, Eugenie Magana and Charlene Wasson — have had great surgical outcomes at St. Bernardine.
If you didn’t know… St. Bernardine has been performing open heart procedures for more than 50 years. To see their new microsite, please click here.
Another interesting fact is that St. Bernardine is one of the largest cardiac programs in Southern California. During 2013, the St. Bernardine team performed over 700 open heart procedures including the full spectrum of valve therapies — including mitral valve repair and aortic valve replacement.
By Adam Pick on April 15, 2014
You’re home from the hospital. You have a fixed heart.
Most likely, the doctors who performed your heart valve operation sent you home with a list of do’s and dont’s for the early recovery and beyond. So you know, a healthy diet can speed healing and lessen fatigue, according to the American Heart Association, which also recommends a healthy weight and active mind to decrease the amount of work your heart must do to allow for optimal recovery.
To clean up your body and mind—and your home, as there are health benefits for doing so—follow your doctor’s advice and these three expert tips:
Continue reading this post »
By Adam Pick on April 11, 2014
I’m no Richard Simmons.
I’m also no Body by Jake or Tony Horton (from P90-X).
I’m just a guy who wants to live a healthy life.
So, on December 31, 2013, myself, Robyn (my wife) and two other couples decided to enter a “2014 Health Challenge”. For me, the goal of this friendly competition was to feel better through exercise, nutrition and meditation. While weight loss was not my primary goal for joining the challenge, I felt that I could easily lose 15 pounds of unwanted fat that mysteriously attached itself to my gut since I turned 40, two years ago.
Continue reading this post »
By Adam Pick on April 8, 2014
I was very fortunate to recently connect with Dr. Alfredo Trento, the Chief of Cardiac Surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. As you may know, Dr. Trento has successfully treated many patients from our community including Jerry Andis, Terry Beaschler and Patricia Shabel.
Considering that Dr. Trento is a cardiac guru, with over 25 years of experience, I was very interested to learn about his surgical approach to valve disease. As you will see in this video, Dr. Trento had several interesting comments about the evolution of cardiac surgery, the importance of timing surgical processes, and the use of robots to enhance surgical outcomes for procedures including mitral valve repair.
By Adam Pick on April 1, 2014
As Spring approaches, there is much to get excited about… The return of warm weather, long days full of sunshine, family trips, baseball, barbecues, blooming flowers, and the joy of being outside.
Personally, I look forward to receiving a special picture as Spring arrives. For, as you can see below, the HVJ gang of Duane, Cheryl, Richard and Fran, reunited — once again — in Florida to celebrate their fixed hearts, each other, their spouses and the Spring season. (I think this is now the third annual event!)
In moments like this, I marvel at the power of the Internet. To think that these four patients would face a life threatening heart valve disease, at the same time, meet online, go on to have successful surgeries, and then continue to be such great friends afterwards… makes me smile. 🙂
Many thanks to Duane, Fran, Cheryl, Richard and their spouses — Peggy, Peter, Susan and Peter — for sharing this picture with me. Now, I know Spring is coming on strong.
- To connect with our patient community, click here.
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on March 27, 2014
Every so often, I receive a patient email that makes me think, “Holy Moly! I need to share this with our community!”
The email below from Christine Wagner triggered that exact reaction. So, for that reason, I am featuring Christine’s story as a special “Guest Blog” because I believe her patient tips are going to help so many patients in our community — especially the women!
Christine Rekash Wagner – Mitral Valve Repair Patient
My name is Christine Rekash Wagner and I am 42 weeks post-op from a mitral valve repair performed by Dr. Patrick McCarthy and his surgical team on June 13, 2013 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. I have been a patient of Dr. Robert Bonow since March 2, 2006 with a mitral heart valve disorder. After several years of yearly echocardiograms and a watchful eye, in October of 2009, I was diagnosed with a leaky mitral valve. Most recently, in October of 2012, I was advised that the results of my yearly echo demonstrated that my mitral valve regurgitation was becoming severe enough that I should consider surgery while I was a young and healthy 41 year old female.
By Adam Pick on March 25, 2014
Together, we have learned about many different types of surgical procedures used to treat heart valve disease and related cardiac disorders including coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation and aortic aneurysms.
Two procedures that I’m continuing to hear about these days are aortic valve repair and valve-sparing aortic root replacement. To learn more about these unique approaches to aortic valve disease and aortic aneurysms, I recently connected with Dr. Ali Khoynezhad who is the Director of Aortic Surgery at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, California. As you can see here, Dr. Khoynezhad has successfully treated 18 patients from this website.
Speaking Announcement: Thanks to the ACC & Cedars-Sinai for Inviting Me to Talk Tomorrow at “Championing Care”
By Adam Pick on March 11, 2014
Many thanks to the American College of Cardiology and Cedars-Sinai for inviting me to speak at the “Championing Care for the Patient with Aortic Stenosis” event tomorrow, Wednesday, March 12 at 1pm PST.
As you can see on the agenda below this is going to be a wonderful educational event. To learn more about the event, click here.
If you are going to the event, I look forward to seeing you there!
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on March 6, 2014
As we have learned together, there is no “perfect” valve replacement for patients who cannot have their own valves repaired. That said, as patients, we must weigh the pros and cons of each valve type – pig, cow, horse and mechanical – to determine which device is best for us given factors including age and lifestyle.
The mechanical valve replacement is an interesting choice for patients. It’s been around for over 40 years. It’s the most durable valve comprised primarily of a special form of carbon— pyrolytic carbon—that can last more than 100 years with the pressures inside the heart. And, there is some research, which suggests that patients who receive mechanical valves have lower complications over a 25-year period.
However, there are two disadvantages for mechanical valve recipients. First, some patients complain that mechanical valves “click” loudly inside the body – which can be annoying. Second, all patients who receive a mechanical valve must take anticoagulants (blood thinners) to prevent the risk of blood clots forming on the valve – for the rest of their lives.
For some patients, the thought of permanently being on blood thinners is just too much handle. As a result, some patients choose a tissue valve and risk the possibility of a future re-operation when their pig, cow or horse valve fails. But mechanical valves sometimes need to be removed from rare incidences of infection or clots.
By Adam Pick on March 5, 2014
If you didn’t know, there are physician guidelines for the management and treatment of heart valve disease. These guidelines, which were created by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, are used by your cardiologist and heart surgeon to determine the best approach for the treatment of valvular disorders including aortic stenosis and mitral regurgitation.
The big news of the week is that the 2014 guidelines have just been released. To help you learn why these guidelines are so important, here is a video with Dr. Robert Bonow, a leading cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine, who has been working on these guidelines for many years.