Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 20

“Will Exercise & Heart Valve Surgery Cause My Aorta To Grow?” asks Joseph

By Adam Pick on March 29, 2018

Aortic aneurysms can be life-threatening.  You might recall that an aortic aneurysm pre-maturely claimed the life of John Ritter, one of my favorite comedians best known for his portrayal of Jack Tripper on Three’s Company.

Specific to aneurysms, heart valve surgery, and exercise, Joseph sent me this question, “Hi Adam – I had mitral valve repair surgery in April of 2017.  After a follow-up in July, my cardiologist told me that my aorta was dilated at 4.5 centimeters and surgery might be necessary at 5 to 5.5 centimeters. Could my repair in April and/or strenuous prolonged exercise cause the aorta to grow?”

To answer Joseph’s question, I met with Dr. Eric Weiss, who is the director of the Aorta Program at Aurora Saint Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Here are the highlights from my very interesting discussion with Dr. Weiss.



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My Cardiologist Was Absolutely Wrong!!!

By Adam Pick on March 21, 2018

Yikes!  Ugh!  Gasp!  Ready to learn why patient education and patient advocacy is so important for patients with heart valve disease?

I almost fell out of my chair when I read this note from Gina Fiorentino, a mitral valve patient and community member, from San Francisco.


Gina, Michael (husband) and Rocco


Gina Writes To Me…

Hi Adam,

I’m five days out from mitral valve repair. I was just released from the hospital today!

It’s very early in my recovery but I had to reach out and thank you for helping me through this process. Because of you, my prognosis and my LIFE has changed – much for the better!

As you may recall… Before I found your website, this past summer, I had been told by a cardiologist that my mitral valve prolapse had progressed.  But, I was directed – by the cardiologist – to sit back and “wait for symptoms to become intolerable”.  
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Would Alan Play Hockey Again After Heart Surgery?

By Adam Pick on March 21, 2018

His passion was hockey.  His diagnosis was severe heart valve disease.  His fear… Never playing hockey again.

This is Alan’s story…



Many thanks to Alan Steinberg for meeting with me to share his triumph of getting back on the ice after heart valve surgery. I loved hearing his story and I loved his inspirational attitude toward the procedure and his remarkable recovery.

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Thanks To Dr. John Mehall, Our 1st Sponsor in Colorado!

By Adam Pick on March 21, 2018

On behalf of our community, I wanted to extend a humongous thanks to Dr. John Mehall for becoming our first sponsor in Colorado.   Dr. Mehall, who specializes in minimally invasive aortic and mitral valve surgery, has performed over 1,000 heart valve procedures.



Dr. Mehall also specializes in the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), an irregular heart rhythm.  If you didn’t know, AFib can impact up to 35% of patients who have a valve defect.  So, if you have valve disease and AFib, you want to find a surgeon who can treat both diseases during a single operation.

Here’s a video in which Dr. Mehall describes his approach to patient care.



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On National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day, We Raised Awareness to 1 Million People!

By Adam Pick on March 15, 2018

Our patient community is downright amazing!

I can not thank you enough for celebrating National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day with me.   Thanks to your online efforts we raised heart valve disease awareness to over 1 million people.   This is so important because heart valve disease is under-diagnosed, mis-diagnosed and under-treated.  Consider that 40% of American adults have never even heard of heart valve disease.  Yikes!


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FDA Approves World’s Smallest Mechanical Heart Valve for Newborns & Infants!

By Adam Pick on March 8, 2018

Big News!  Great News!  Awesome News!

Yesterday, I learned that the FDA has approved the world’s smallest mechanical heart valve replacement from Abbott for pediatric patients.  This valve, known as the Masters HP 15mm mechanical heart valve, will enable doctors to treat newborns and infants needing mitral valve or aortic valve replacement.



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Today Is National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day!

By Adam Pick on February 22, 2018

Woo-Whoo!!  Double Woo-Whoo!!  Triple Woo-Whoo!!

Today is the 2nd annual National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day!!!  On this special day, 20+ organizations have joined together to raise awareness to heart valve disease…  A disease that is under-diagnosed and under-treated…  A disease that needs more awareness…  A disease that threatened my life!!!



So you know… We can’t do it alone.  We need your help.  That’s right!  Today, patients from all over the planet will unite to form an empowering force for good! We need your help to educate the world about the symptoms, the causes, the risks and the treatments of heart valve disease.

“How can I help?” you might be wondering.  (Yay! I was hoping you might be thinking that.  Scroll down for the answer.)


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Free Patient eBook: Advantages of Mitral Valve Repair

By Adam Pick on February 19, 2018

The response to our webinar, “Advantages of Mitral Valve Repair”, has been extraordinary. Hosted by Dr. Patrick McCarthy, Dr. James Thomas and myself, this 60-minute session connected patients from all over the world in real-time to discuss mitral valve disease and treatment options including mitral valve repair techniques.

If you missed the webinar, I just posted a free 52-page eBook. If you – or someone you love – has mitral valve disease, I really encourage you, your family and your friends to read this eBook or watch the webinar video below. There were many important points raised during this webinar that some patients are not properly educated about.


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Thursday Is National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day!

By Adam Pick on February 19, 2018

Mark your calendars!  This Thursday, February 22, 2018, is National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day!

“Why have a day dedicated to heart valve disease awareness?” you might be wondering.

Well… Consider that 5 million people in the United States alone have heart valve disease. However, 40% of American adults have never even heard of heart valve disease. Uggh! Double Uggh! Triple Uggh! Here’s a video about this special day!



For this reason, over 20 organizations have come together to raise awareness and fight heart valve disease. To learn about all the great online and offline events planned for this special day, here are several links to help you:

Hope you join us for this wonderful and important day!!!

Keep on tickin!

Cardiac Depression: What Should Patients Know?

Written By: Adam Pick, Patient Advocate, Author & Website Founder
Page last updated: November 7, 2023

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.

As my mission is to educate and empower you, I recently connected with Dr. Marc Gillinov, the Chair of Cardiac Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. If you didn’t know, Dr. Gillinov is a heart valve specialist who has successfully treated over 100 patients from our community. Here’s the highlights from my interview with Dr. Gillinov about cardiac depression.



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Patient Webinar Alert: Join 250+ Patients Today!

By Adam Pick on February 11, 2018

Holy Moly!  Sign-ups for our FREE upcoming webinar, “Advantages of Mitral Valve Repair”, soared past 250 patients since I announced this educational event last week!

The great news is that YOU can still register for the free webinar.  Our panelists for this important webinar include Dr. Patrick McCarthy, Chief of Cardiac Surgery, and Dr. James Thomas, Director of the Center for Heart Valve Disease, at Northwestern Medicine.  The one-hour webinar will be held TODAY, February 13, at 5pm CST.  To register now, click here.



I look forward to connecting with you LIVE during this special webinar!!!  This should be fun and educational!!!

Keep on tickin!

Rigid Sternal Fixation: Top 6 Facts for Patients

Written By: Adam Pick, Patient Advocate, Author & Website Founder
Page last updated: November 7, 2023

As I personally experienced… Sternal wires are commonly used to support the breast bone as it heals after open heart surgery.  As a community… We have openly discussed the discomfort and pain that can be associated with sternal wires during the healing process.  In fact, several patients in our community have had their sternal wires removed.


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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.

Specific to this important topic, I received a great question from Pam about “Pumphead”.  She wrote to me, “Hi Adam, I had robotic mitral valve surgery in January. Although I’m feeling good, I still have lingering symptoms of Pumphead – double vision, floaters in my vision, fuzziness.  What exactly causes Pumphead? What is happening in my brain when I’m experiencing these post-surgery symptoms?”

To answer Pam’s question, I connected with Dr. Patrick McCarthy at the Heart Valve Summit in Chicago.  Dr. McCarthy, who is the Chief of Cardiac Surgery at Northwestern Medicine, has performed over 10,000 cardiac procedures and more than 4,000 heart valve operations.  So you know, Dr. McCarthy has successfully treated over 100 patients from our community and invented many heart valve devices.  Here’s the highlights from our chat about Pumphead.


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“Is Mitral Valve Re-Repair Possible?” asks Jeanie

By Adam Pick on January 18, 2018

The possibility of heart valve “re-operations” is known within our community. As patients, we hope that only one valve procedure is needed during our lifetime. However, the reality is that patients may need one or more re-operations.

Specific to this topic… Jeanie recently asked me, “Hi, Adam. I’m 63 years old. I just had mitral valve repair surgery performed in April of 2017. Now, a few months later, I have moderate to severe leakage again. Can this be re-repaired or do I need to have it replaced?”

To answer Jeanie’s question, I was very lucky to interview Dr. David Adams who is the Cardiac Surgeon-in-Chief of the Mount Sinai Health System in New York. If you didn’t know, Dr. Adams is a mitral valve guru who started the Mitral Conclave Conference and co-wrote the book, Carpentier’s Reconstructive Valve Surgery. In addition, Dr. Adams has successfully treated over 100 patients in our community including Sophie Marsh, Brian Walsh and so many others.



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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?”

To help Karen and our community learn more about this very important topic, I met with Dr. Robert Bonow, the former President of the American Heart Association and a Professor of Cardiology at Northwestern Medicine. So you know, Bob could be one of the nicest people I have ever met. Plus, he has helped many patients from our community including Christine Rakesh and Mark Kroto. Here’s the highlights of my interview with Bob.



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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.


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Heart Surgery: Past, Present & Future

By Adam Pick on December 21, 2017

Ready to go on a wonderful journey through the evolution of heart surgery?

In this video… Dr. Paul Fedak, the Professor of the Department of Cardiac Sciences at the University of Calgary, describes the pioneers and the medical breakthroughs that transformed heart surgery from taboo to mainstream medicine.  The video is 17 minutes long… And, worth every second of it.



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12 Years Later, I’m Still Tickin’

By Adam Pick on December 21, 2017

It’s hard to believe… 12 years ago…

At this very moment, I was being wheeled into an operating room at the University of Southern California where Dr. Vaughn Starnes and his team would perform a Ross Procedure to fix my heart that suffered from a bicuspid aortic valve with stenosis and regurgitation.



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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?”

To get Joachim an expert opinion, I was very fortunate to sit down with Dr. Steve Bolling, a leading cardiac surgeon from Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor.  Here are the highlights from our chat:



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Surgeon Q&A: “What Are The Mortality Rates of Heart Valve Surgery?” asks Betty

By Adam Pick on December 7, 2017

I’ll never forget the flood of dislocating emotions and questions that raced through my mind when Dr. Bad Bedside Manner said to me, “Adam – You need heart valve surgery.  And, you need it soon.” I felt confused.  I felt alone.  And, I felt afraid.  Specific to the fear, I distinctly remember thinking, “What are the chances I might die during this incredibly complex surgery?” and “Is it heart surgery safe?” and “Is it worth the risk?”

I was reminded of these questions when Betty recently asked me, “What are the percentages of people who die after aortic valve replacement?”  To answer Betty’s question, I was very fortunate to interview Dr. Patrick McCarthy, who is the Executive Director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine.  During his career, Dr. McCarthy has performed over 10,000 cardiac procedures of which more than 5,000 involved heart valve procedures. Here’s what Dr. McCarthy shared with me:



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