Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 21

Surgeon Q&A: Are Coumadin Requirements Being Lowered for On-X Mechanical Valve Replacements?

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.

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Science News: 2014 Heart Valve Disease Management Guidelines Announced by the AHA / ACC

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.


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The Webinar eBook & Video for “What Can Heart Valve Surgery Patients Expect?” by Dr. Castro & Me

By Adam Pick on March 4, 2014

The response to our webinar, “What Can Heart Valve Surgery Patients Expect?”, has been extraordinary. Hosted by Dr. Luis Castro and myself, this 60-minute session connected over 100 attendees in real-time to discuss patient expectations before, during and after heart surgery.

In case you missed the webinar, I just posted a free 53-page eBook and video playback of the event. If you are preparing or recovering from surgery, I really encourage you, your family and your friends to read this eBook or watch the webinar video.



If you were unable to attend the webinar, I have created two ways that you can access the information shared during this online event with Dr. Castro and myself. You can:

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A Look at the Advancements in Heart Surgery

By Adam Pick on March 3, 2014

The world’s very first heart surgery was said to have taken place only a little more than a century ago. Today, it’s almost common place, with millions undergoing surgeries like cardiac catheterizations, coronary artery bypass grafts and valve related procedures.



Back in 1893, medical textbooks stated that operating on a human heart was too dangerous, but a physician by the name of Dr. Daniel Hale Williams decided to take the risk without the benefit of X-rays, antibiotics, proper anesthesia or other modern surgery tools. His patient survived and was discharged almost two months later; the operation is now widely considered to be the first successful open-heart surgery.

Since that time, there have been many advances in heart surgery.


Heart-Lung Machine

The introduction of a heart-lung machine in 1953 was a major milestone in heart surgery, but it was still considered extremely risky with only 1 out of 5 patients surviving at the time. Since then, the machine has significantly improved, developing into the sophisticated piece of equipment we know today. For over three decades, the heart had to be stopped during bypass surgery but in more recent years new pieces of equipment that stabilize the heart have been created, allowing surgery on a heart that is still beating.

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“What About Breast Implants Before Heart Surgery?” Asks Dorata

By Adam Pick on February 24, 2014

I received an interesting question from Dorata about breast implants, echocardiograms and minimally invasive heart valve surgery. In her email, Dorata writes, “Hi Adam, I’m expecting a mitral valve repair surgery in a few years. I’m considering having breast implants now. I am wondering if breast implants interfere with the echocardiographic examination and minimally invasive surgeries?”


Breast Implant Before Heart Surgery


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Webinar Announcement: “What Can Heart Valve Surgery Patients Expect?” with Dr. Castro & Me on February 26!

By Adam Pick on February 18, 2014

Did you know that over 40% of patients feel they were not adequately prepared for heart valve surgery?

For that reason, I will be hosting a one-hour webinar titled, “Heart Valve Surgery: What Can Patients Expect?”, with Dr. Luis Castro, the Medical Director of Cardiovascular Surgery at Sequoia Hospital’s Heart & Vascular Institute, on Wednesday, February 26, at 12:00pm PST. During the webinar, Dr. Castro and I will share important details about heart valve surgery from the patient perspective.

To register for this free webinar, click here.


Heart Valve Webinar


I forgot to mention… During the webinar, you will have an opportunity to ask Dr. Castro and me your questions in real-time. That said, this is an excellent opportunity to get all of your questions answered!

So you know… During his 25-year career, Dr. Castro has performed over 5,000 cardiac procedures of which 3,000 procedures involved heart valve therapy. Dr. Castro specializes in the treatment of mitral valve disease, aortic valve disorders, aortic root reconstruction and atrial fibrillation. You should also know that Dr. Castro has successfully performed surgery on many patients from our community including Jim Ciamarro, Mickey King, and Linda Gaudet.

I look forward to talking with you at the webinar!

Getting Ready for Your Heart Surgery Recovery at Home

By Adam Pick on February 11, 2014

More than half a million heart surgeries are done each year in the United States, according to the National Institute of Health. This once scary surgery is becoming more-and-more commonplace, and with increasing success rates, more people are recovering at home after their hospital stay. However, please, please, please get your home ready BEFORE you go in for surgery to make sure your are prepared. Here are a few suggestions for you, your family and friends.


Heart Surgery Patient Recovering At HomeDuane Hunt – Mitral Valve Surgery Patient Recovering at Home


Be Patient With Your Recovery

You should receive discharge instructions from your doctor when you leave the hospital, but it helps to be mentally prepared for a recovery time of several weeks or months, notes WebMD. This may vary depending on your health prior to the surgery, any complications that happened while in the hospital, and your motivation to follow instructions when you get home.

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Bernie Marcus, Home Depot Co-Founder, Donates $20 Million To Launch Heart Valve Center at Piedmont Heart

By Adam Pick on February 4, 2014

Over the past 9 months, I’ve been very fortunate to meet several surgeons from Piedmont Heart Institute in Georgia. As you might recall, I recently attended a medical mission in the Dominican Republic with Dr. Federico Milla and Dr. John Gott.

If you didn’t know… Piedmont Heart received a $20 million donation from Bernie Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot, to launch a dedicated heart valve reference center in Atlanta. Here is a really neat interview with Mr. Marcus about the reasons he wanted to create a new heart valve center at Piedmont.



As a regional valve reference clinic, the Marcus Heart Valve Center has been designed to be a “one-stop shop” for patients with heart valve problems. In addition, the Marcus Heart Valve Center is developing academic capabilities to help teach physicians about the latest advancements in valvular disease.

Keep on tickin!

Technology Update: Using 4D-MRI to Advance Bicuspid Aortic Valve Therapy

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.

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Thanks to Jessie and Max, JoyJars Bring Smiles to Children with Cancer and Heart Disease

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 and Her Joy JarsJessie 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.

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“TAVR or Mini-Sternotomy for Bicuspid Aortic Valve?” asks Julie

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?”


Bicuspid Aortic Valve Tavr Ministernotomy


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.

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Mitral Regurgitation Visualized – For You, Your Family & Friends

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.


Mitral Valve Regurgitation Infographic


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!

Surgeon Spotlight: Dr. Hyde Russell Takes Care of Patients Aged 0 to 99

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.


Dr. Hyde M. Russell


One such example is Dr. Hyde Russell of Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.

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Top 10 Heart Valve Surgery Stories of 2013

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:

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Happy Holidays from Ethan, Robyn and Me!

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.


Pick Family Holiday Card - 2014Robyn, Ethan (4) and Me


May you and all those around you have an incredible 2014!!!

Keep on tickin!

Special Patient Update: Little AJ’s Wish Comes True

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.

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“What Percent of Heart Valve Operations Use Minimally Invasive Approaches?” asks Elliot

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?”


Minimally Invasive Aortic Valve Replacement Procedures


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:

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When You Can’t Be There: Tips for Providing Long Distance Care & Support

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.

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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.


Radiation Therapy & Heart Disease


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?

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Free eBook & Video: “Advances in Mitral & Tricuspid Valve Surgery; Plus, Atrial Fibrillation”

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.


Free eBook: Advances in Mitral & Tricuspid Valve Surgery; Plus, Atrial Fibrillation


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:


Download the free eBook. Watch the webinar video.


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!

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