Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 21

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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Medical Mission Update: In Haiti, Berthony Gets A “Second Chance” At Life

By Adam Pick on November 29, 2017

I’ve witnessed it first hand…

I’ve seen it happen in the Dominican Republic…

When Dr. David Adams, the Mitral Foundation, and Every Heartbeat Matters comes together, the human spirit lifts and heart valve patients get a “second chance” at life.

Recently, I had a special opportunity to talk with Dr. Adams about Berthony, a 24-year old patient from Haiti, who needed not one, not two, but three valves operated on.



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1,000 TAVRs for The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano!

By Adam Pick on November 29, 2017

The evolution of transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) has transformed from a crazy idea to a life-saving therapy during the past 25 years. Throughout that time, many dedicated doctors, research staffs, clinical specialists and medical device companies joined forces to bring about a “new age” in minimally invasive, valvular therapy that does not require an incision to the patient’s sternum or ribs.

One team that has powered the TAVR revolution is Dr. Michael Mack, the past-president of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and Dr. David Brown, a world-renown cardiologist, at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano.



I could ramble on-and-on about their commitment to TAVR.

I could ramble on-and-on about their efforts to transform an industry.

Instead, I wanted to share this wonderful video which celebrates their unique journey to their 1,000th TAVR procedure completed last week.



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Surgeon Q&A: What About “Valve-in-Valve” Procedures for Small Tissue Valves?

By Adam Pick on November 22, 2017

Given all the recent developments about “Valve-in-Valve” procedures, my inbox is swelling up with questions.  For example, Connie asked me, “I had my aortic valve replaced in 2014.  What are the chances of Valve-in-Valve replacement for smaller sizes such as 21mm Edwards Magna Ease pericardial valve?”



I loved Connie’s question as it raises so many critical elements of valve therapy including valve size, valve re-operations and the new transcatheter procedures that are just now receiving FDA approval.  For that reason, I wanted a “Rock Star” response to help our community learn more.

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Congrats to the American Heart Association for Saving 1.7 Million Lives!!!

By Adam Pick on November 22, 2017

There is one statistic about heart disease that makes me very uncomfortable and very sad. Here it is…  Heart disease is responsible for 1 out of 3 deaths among women. Imagine that? Shocking, right?

For that reason… In 1998, the American Heart Association (AHA) set a wonderful, 10-year goal to reduce the number of deaths from heart disease and stroke by 25 percent. Now, 10 years later, that goal has been exceeded.  Watch this video to learn how the AHA’s patient education efforts have saved the lives 1.7 million people.



Many thanks to the AHA for its extraordinary campaign to educate and empower patients with heart disease. And specifically, many thanks to all the volunteers, the corporate sponsors, and the donors who have come together to fight heart disease.

Keep on tickin’ AHA!

The Pick Family Expands… By Four Feet!!!

By Adam Pick on November 22, 2017

I have some great and fun news to share with our community!  The Pick family has expanded by four feet.  That’s right.  I am happy to introduce you to Bodie Pick, our new 16-week old puppy.  He also goes by “BoBo”, “Bear” and “Bodiferous”.



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Atrial Fibrillation After Heart Surgery: What Should Patients Know?

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

At the recent Heart Valve Summit, I was overwhelmed with wonderful patient questions for our “Ask Adam Anything” event.  For example, Eileen asked me about atrial fibrillation (AFib) which is an abnormal heart rhythm.  Eileen’s question was, “Is atrial fibrillation after heart valve surgery common?”

As you may know… Atrial fibrillation is closely associated with heart valve disease.  For that reason, I wanted to get Eileen an expert opinion.  So, I tracked down Dr. Marc Gillinov who is the new Chair of Cardiac Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic.  So you know, Dr. Gillinov is a guru when it comes to valvular heart disease and atrial fibrillation.  You should also know that Dr. Gillinov has successfully treated many, many, many patients from our community including Anita Devine, Jeff Pirofsky and Fran Zilko.

Here are the highlights from my interview with Dr. Gillinov about atrial fibrillation after heart surgery.



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Surgeon Spotlight: Dr. Luis Castro Receives Over 100 Patient Testimonials!

By Adam Pick on November 15, 2017

I am overly excited to share that Dr. Luis Castro just received his 103rd patient testimonial at his surgeon profile.



If you’re not familiar with Dr. Castro, let me introduce you to a special person whose patient-centric approach to cardiac care is fundamentally unique.  Dr. Castro goes above-and-beyond for his patients.  He gives out his cell phone number to his patients.  Dr. Castro goes surfing with his patients.  He educates his patients about each step in the surgical process.  And, most importantly, he delivers excellent surgical results.


Dr. Castro with Tom Fitzmorris (his aortic valve patient)

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Is Aortic Valve Repair A New Global Phenomenon?

By Adam Pick on November 7, 2017

Together, we’ve learned lots about the advantages of mitral valve repair procedures which include long-term durability and freedom from re-operation.  In the process, I’ve attended wonderful mitral valve conferences and I’ve even gone inside live surgeon workshops dedicated to teaching best practices for mitral valve repair.

That said, you might be wondering, “What about aortic valve repair?” and “Why don’t I hear much about aortic valve repair?”.  Unfortunately, our educational efforts specific to aortic valve repair have been minimal.  In the past, I simply haven’t received many patient questions about aortic valve repair.

Well…  It appears that is about to change.  During the recent Heart Valve Summit, I sat down with Dr. Vinay Badhwar, the Professor and Executive Chair of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at West Virginia University Medicine, to get the latest updates on new aortic valve repair devices and techniques.  Here are the exciting highlights from our discussion.



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