By Adam Pick on January 24, 2014
Like many of you, I was born with a bicuspid aortic valve. For that reason, I’m overly interested to learn more about this valvular disorder that impacts 2% of the population.
Recently, I had a special opportunity to meet and interview Dr. Paul Fedak, a cardiac surgeon, scientist and Director of Translational Research at the Northwestern Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease Program. As you will see in this video, Dr. Fedak and his team is using the latest technology, 4D-MRI, to better understand and treat bicuspid aortic valves.
I hope this helped you learn more about bicuspid aortic valves, aortic aneurysms and the research going on at Northwestern to improve bicuspid aortic valve treatment. I’d like to extend a special thanks to Dr. Paul Fedak and the Bicuspid Aortic Valve Program at Northwestern for all of their incredible work.
By Adam Pick on January 18, 2014
We all encounter challenges in life. Some are small. Some are big. And, some are devastating. How we respond to those challenges is up to us. We have a choice. Some of us retreat. Others rise above.
The story of Jessie Rees is an extraordinary example of someone who chose to rise above. In 2011, Jessie — at the young age of 12 — was diagnosed with a life-threatening form of brain cancer. During her out-patient treatment, which included radiation and chemotherapy, Jessie noticed that many children at her hospital were too sick to leave the hospital. So, to bring joy to their lives, Jessie started making JoyJars to brighten up their day.
As shown in this inspirational video, Jessie would go on to help thousands of children around the world.
Jessie’s altruistic desire to help others resulted in the launch of the Jessie Rees Foundation which is designed to support the (i) expansion of JoyJars and (ii) her courageous message to “Never Ever Give Up”.
Jessie Rees & Her JoyJars
JoyJars are now found in over 260 Children’s Hospitals and over 175 Ronald McDonald Houses.
Max, 9, Helps Bring JoyJars to Children with Heart Disease
On January 5, 2012, after a 10-month fight against two brain tumors, Jessie earned her angel wings and made her trip to heaven.
By Adam Pick on January 10, 2014
I just received a great question from Julie about transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), mini-sternotomies and bicuspid aortic valve therapy. She writes to me, “Hi Adam, can the TAVR or mini sternotomy be used for bicuspid valve replacement?”
Julie asks a great question — as there is a good deal of confusion about the different minimally invasive approaches to treat aortic valve disease. For this reason, I contacted Dr. Gorav Ailawadi from Michigan Medicine. Dr. Ailawadi is an expert in the field of minimally invasive and transcatheter valve therapy. He’s also a really nice guy who responded to Julie’s question in under four hours.
By Adam Pick on January 8, 2014
As mitral valve regurgitation is one of the most common forms of heart valve disease, I get a lot of great questions about it. The questions range from “What is leaky mitral regurgitation?” to “What are the causes of mitral valve regurg?” to “Is the disorder dangerous?”
In the past, I have posted several stories and videos about mitral regurgitation. However, I wanted to try something different to educate our community. So, I created a Mitral Regurgitation Infographic. As you will see below, I tried my best to answer the key questions about mitral regurgitation using helpful illustrations and statistics. If you like the graphic, please “Like” or “Tweet” or “Pin” or “Google+” it. I am hopeful your share will educate many people about this under-diagnosed and dangerous disease.
Many thanks to Dr. David Adams and Gideon Sims at Mount Sinai Hospital for their extraordinary help with this mitral regurgitation infographic. I also want to extend a big thank you to Edwards Lifesciences and Medtronic for contributing several images to the infographic.
So you know… Your Facebook ‘Like’ or ‘Tweet’ or ‘Pin’ can make a difference! As mitral regurgitation is commonly under-diagnosed, the sharing of this infographic might really help your friends or family members learn about the symptoms and dangers of this disease. Simply click the ‘Like’ or ‘Tweet’ or other icons.
In advance, thanks for your help!!!
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on January 6, 2014
Since launching this website in 2006, I’ve been very lucky to meet and interview several cardiac surgeons. Interestingly, most of the surgeons I meet with specialize in valve therapy for adults. Every so often, however, I connect with a heart surgeon that is capable of treating patients aged 0 to 99… and beyond.
One such example is Dr. Hyde Russell of Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.
By Adam Pick on December 30, 2013
During 2013, our patient and caregiver community actively discussed many topics specific to the treatment of heart valve disease. As we prepare to enter 2014, I thought it might be helpful — for all of us — to look back at those stories that generated the most interest and social sharing during the past twelve months.
So… Without further ado… Here are your Top 10 Heart Valve Surgery Stories of 2013:
By Adam Pick on December 24, 2013
I wanted to take a quick moment to wish you, the wonderful patients and caregivers in our community, a very happy and healthy holidays.
Thanks to you, this website has become one of the greatest gifts of my life. Your care, support and love for each other is extraordinary and inspiring.
Robyn, Ethan (4) and Me
May you and all those around you have an incredible 2014!!!
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on December 18, 2013
In 41 years of life, I had never experienced a wish-granting ceremony by Make-A-Wish.
That recently changed, however, thanks to a phone call I received from Edwards Lifesciences, a leading heart valve manufacturer. During that call, I learned that little Abraham Jordan Iqueda (AJ), a courageous five-year old boy — diagnosed with aortic and mitral valve disease, plus CHARGE syndrome — was about to receive a special wish at his home in Lake Elsinore, California.
To share AJ’s story with you, I created the video below.
Needless to say, I would like to thank the Iqueda family — AJ, Vicky & George – for opening their home and their hearts to me. It was an honor and privilege to be a part of this wish granting experience.
By Adam Pick on December 17, 2013
I received a very interesting question from Elliot about minimally invasive procedures for heart valve operations.
In his email, Elliot writes to me, “Hi Adam – At 53, I’ve been diagnosed with moderate to severe aortic stenosis. In doing my homework about cardiac surgery, I’m reading more and more about minimally invasive techniques for valve surgery. At the same time, I know that the full chest incisions are still being done by many surgeons. My questions to you are, “What percent of heart valve operations are performed using mini approaches? Is it easier to do a mini for one valve versus another? Are the surgical results as good using minis or are full sternotomies a better option for preventing re-operations?”
As Elliot asks several great questions in his email, I want to get him several great answers. For that reason, I contacted Dr. John Grehan, a heart valve surgeon from St. Paul, Minnesota, that uses minimally invasive techniques in his practice. Here is Dr. Grehan’s response to Elliot:
By Adam Pick on December 17, 2013
After an initial hospital stay, the recovery from heart valve surgery varies. If you have a close friend or relative who’s undergoing surgery, you want to be there to support him or her. But, in some cases, distance makes being by a person’s hospital bed impossible. While you might not be able to be right there for someone, you can still take care of him. The National Institute on Aging estimates there are about 7 million long distance caregivers in the country — you’re not alone.
Take Care of the Day-to-Day Concerns
You can’t walk your friend’s dogs yourself or make her meals after her surgery. But, you can arrange for meal delivery or hire a dog walker in the area. Look for a meal delivery service that can cater its meals to your loved one’s needs.
Ask the Expert: The Impact of Cancer & Radiation Therapy on Heart Valve Function with Dr. Luis Castro
By Adam Pick on December 12, 2013
Since launching this website, I have met many patients who experience valvular disorders after radiation therapy for cancer. I was curious to learn more about the connection between cancer, radiation treatment and heart valve disease, so I contacted Dr. Luis Castro, a leading heart valve surgeon from Sequoia Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute in Redwood City, California.
Here are the highlights from our exchange:
Adam: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me today about heart valve disease related to cancer treatment – specifically radiation therapy. Do you see many patients with this issue?
By Adam Pick on December 12, 2013
Great news! Our recent webinar, “Advances in Mitral & Tricuspid Valve Surgery; Plus, Atrial Fibrillation”, was fantastic! Over 235 patients and caregivers registered to learn critical insights about mitral valve disorders, tricuspid valve defects and atrial fibrillation from Dr. Robert Bonow, past president of the American Heart Association, and Dr. Patrick McCarthy, chief of cardiac surgery at Northwestern Medicine.
If you were unable to attend the webinar, I have created two ways that you can access the information shared during this hour-long event with Drs. Bonow and McCarthy. You can:
On behalf of our community, I want to thank Drs. Bonow and McCarthy for participating in this special event about mitral valve disease, tricuspid valve disease and atrial fibrillation. I also want to thank Eileen McDonald, Barabara Garren, Courtney Barker and Linda Huerta at Northwestern for coordinating and supporting this webinar.
Lastly, I want to thank all the patients who attended this very interactive webinar. The “Questions & Answers” section of the webinar was fantastic!!!
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on December 4, 2013
I recently met Clarissa Alaimo, a 53-year old patient from Lake Forest, Illinois.
Like many patients, Clarissa suffered from shortness of breath and fatigue due to several cardiac issues including mitral stenosis, tricuspid regurgitation and atrial fibrillation. So you know, Clarissa experienced rheumatic fever years ago.
To help you learn more about Clarissa and her complex surgery, I created this patient success story video. For the hearing impaired members of our community, I have provided a written transcript below.
Many thanks to Clarissa for taking the time to be interviewed for this video. I also want to thank Dr. McCarthy, Dr. Vassallo and the Northwestern team for taking such great care of Clarissa.
By Adam Pick on December 3, 2013
Great news everybody!
I just learned that over 200 patients and caregivers have registered for our webinar, “Advances in Mitral & Tricuspid Valve Surgery; Plus, Atrial Fibrillation” with Dr. Robert Bonow, past president of the American Heart Association, and Dr. Patrick McCarthy, chief of cardiac surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The webinar will be held this Wednesday — from 4:30 to 5:30pm CST.
Given the response to this event, we just extended the webinar registration. So, if you would like to participate in this special community event, simply click here. There is no fee to join the webinar and all you need is a computer to attend the event.
FYI… Here are answers to a few questions I’ve received about the webinar:
Question 1 – Can I Still Register For The Webinar?
Yes, you can still register for the event. To sign-up for the webinar, click here.
By Adam Pick on November 25, 2013
I am very excited to announce that Dr. Robert Bonow, past president of the American Heart Association, and Dr. Patrick McCarthy, chief of cardiac surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, will be hosting a special one-hour webinar on Wednesday, December 4, at 4:30pm CST.
The webinar, “Advances in Mitral & Tricuspid Valve Surgery: Plus, Atrial Fibrillation”, will provide special insights into valvular disease and treatment. Drs. Bonow and McCarthy will also address a common condition among patients at our website… atrial fibrillation.
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. Bonow and McCarthy questions in real-time. That said, this is an excellent opportunity to get your questions answered about heart valve disease and atrial fibrillation.
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 tool.
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on November 25, 2013
Travel during the holiday season is expected to increase this year, up from the 93.3 million travelers who ventured at least 50 miles away from home this time last year, according to AAA. Although many medical professionals recommend avoiding traveling during recovery, it seems practically unavoidable during this family-centered season. However, just because you might be going against this advice, it doesn’t mean you should throw all caution to the wind. These tips break down some important considerations for traveling after heart surgery.
The National Health Service recommends checking with your airline BEFORE flying, since companies have varying regulations on post-surgery travelers. However, the Civilian Aviation Authority says that 10 to 14 days is sufficient after chest surgery or a coronary artery bypass graft. After any heart operation, patients should remain moderately active to keep the heart pumping. Avoid tight clothing to prevent circulation inhibition as well.
By Adam Pick on November 22, 2013
During the past 24 months, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two transcatheter valve therapies — the SAPIEN and the MitraClip — for select patient populations in the United States. While these FDA approvals represent significant progress in the adoption of transcatheter valve technologies, I’ve met with several physicians and patients who continue to be frustrated by the relatively slow path by which next generation devices becomes available in America.
To learn more about the challenges and opportunities of adopting transcatheter valve therapy in the United States, I recently interviewed Dr. Ziyad Hijazi, a leading interventional cardiologist, from Rush Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. Here are the highlights of my conversation with Dr. Hijazi.
By Adam Pick on November 21, 2013
When I joined Heart Valve Journals in September of 2012, I had really one thing in mind, “Could I continue running til surgery and after surgery would I be back to where I was at?” In June, I was told that I needed to have surgery but decided not to fully believe that since I had no symptoms that I could see and was running 20-30 miles a week, completed a half marathon just months before and was planning a full marathon in November.
Brian & His Three Sons
Well, it came to reality in October and November when my Internal Cardiac Device (ICD) Defibrillator sent a shock through my body from my heart hitting over 180 and then 190 beats per minute. As I reflected back on my journal entries, I remember this time too well. This was the reality check I needed and the time I needed to talk it out with my wife to give me the peace to go ahead and get this surgery behind me. The encouragement from this website was something I really needed as people I did not know reached out through the guestbook, provided information and I read story after story about success from others.
Brian 3 days after surgery, loving being photographed in my gown
Now, here I am almost 1 year from my surgery and back at full strength in my running, preparing for my first half marathon since surgery in April and trying to give back to this great community in any way I can. I know there are many other passionate runners out here, some pre-surgery, some in recovery and many post surgery. I already have a list of a few, Scott Newson, Mitch Friedman, Jim Jones, Peter Woglom, and John O’Neil. Now, I want to get more and give back to the heart community as a whole, so here is the plan.
By Adam Pick on November 19, 2013
In case you missed it… The MitraClip just received a Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approval in the United States. This is REALLY big news as the MitraClip is now the first-and-only transcatheter valve therapy for patients with leaking mitral valves, also known as regurgitation. Using the MitraClip, physicians can treat defective mitral leaflets without causing any trauma to the patient’s sternum or ribs. Yep, you read that right. No cracked bones!
To educate our patient community about the significant implications of the MitraClip’s FDA approval, I contacted Dr. Scott Lim, a leading interventional cardiologist at the UVA Advanced Cardiac Valve Center at the University of Virginia. As you might recall, I saw Dr. Lim perform a MitraClip procedure a few years ago. To date, Dr. Lim’s team has performed over 100 MitraClip procedures.
By Adam Pick on November 8, 2013
I recently traveled from Los Angeles to the Dominican Republic for a medical mission to treat patients with heart valve disease. Since I had never been on a mission, I didn’t know what to expect. After the mission, I can share that this five-day event altered my perception of human kindness. I was touched, moved and inspired by the patients, their families, the nurses and the doctors who came together for this extraordinary mission.
While in Santo Domingo, I saw four patients get a “second chance” at life. While in Santo Domingo, I saw three medical teams — Mount Sinai Hospital, Piedmont Heart Institute and Hospital General de la Plaza de la Salud — achieve surgical success. While in Santo Domingo, I also had a camera and a microphone which captured several beautiful moments on film. That said, I created the video below to share this experience with you.
On behalf of the patients, their families and friends, I would like to thank the Mitral Foundation for organizing and financially supporting this mission. In particular, I would like to thank Dr. David Adams, Dr. Ricardo Lazala and Gideon Sims for inviting me to Santo Domingo for the mission. I would also like to thank each person from The Mount Sinai Hospital and Piedmont Heart Institute teams including Dr. Gregory Fischer, Dr. Fred Lajam, Dr. Federico Milla, Dr. John Gott, Juan Obando and Mary Joy Santillan.