Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 21

Ask the Cardiologist: What Should Patients Know About the Valve Management Guidelines?

By Adam Pick on June 16, 2015

Have you ever wondered how your doctor figures out the best treatment for your valvular disorder?

I did. But, I never asked my surgeon before my operation. In fact, it wasn’t until years later that I learned about the Heart Valve Management Guidelines issued the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.

To learn about these special guidelines, I interviewed Dr. Blase Carabello, a leading cardiologist, who has been working on the guidelines since 1998. Here are the highlights from my talk with Dr. Carabello.



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From Ocular Migraines to Heart Valve Repair, This is Jim’s Story

By Adam Pick on June 4, 2015

Together, we’ve learned a lot about the symptoms of heart valve disease. We’ve also learned that many patients have no symptoms. That said, getting a proper diagnosis for any type of valvular disorder can be a bit tricky and, in some situations, quite dangerous.

During a recent trip to Chicago, I connected with Jim Kelly, 56, from Wheeling, Illinois. During our chat, Jim revealed a very unique, diagnostic story that resulted in… mitral valve repair surgery. This is Jim’s story.



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University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Launches Heart Valve Microsite!

By Adam Pick on June 4, 2015

I am very excited to announce that the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) just launched a Heart Valve Clinic Microsite at!

UPMC, which is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has a unique Heart Valve Clinic approach that includes a Center for Aortic Valve Disease and other specialized centers for atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease and aneurysm therapy.

As you may know, we’ve been working with UPMC for a few years. Many patients from our community — including Josephine Rizzo, Charlene Melcher, Michelle Bamburak — have had excellent surgical outcomes with the UPMC team. 🙂

To experience the new UPMC microsite, click here.

University of Pittsburgh Heart Valve Clinic

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Ask Me Anything #3: “How Bad Does My Heart Murmur Have To Be Before It Gets Fixed?” Asks Ruth

By Adam Pick on May 18, 2015

In our third “Ask Me Anything” video from the Mitral Conclave, Dr. Patrick McCarthy, the chief of cardiac surgery at Northwestern Medicine, answers Ruth’s question, “How bad does my mitral valve heart murmur have to be before it gets fixed?”



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Ask Me Anything #2: “Is the MitraClip Close to Being a Standardized Procedure?” asks Dorothy

By Adam Pick on May 12, 2015

For our second “Ask Me Anything” video from the Mitral Conclave conference, we’re going to answer Dorothy’s question about the MitraClip, a new transcatheter mitral valve repair device (TMVR) that received FDA approval in 2013. In her post, Dorothy asked me, “Is the MitraClip getting closer to being a standardized procedure?”


MitraClip by Abbott Laboratories


To answer Dorothy’s question, I tracked down Dr. Gorav Ailawadi from the Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor, Michigan. As you might recall, I was very fortunate to watch Dr. Ailawadi and Dr. Scott Lim perform a MitraClip procedure a few years ago.



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Ask Me Anything #1: “Are Heart Palpitations a Symptom of Mitral Valve Disease?” Asks Nupur

By Adam Pick on April 30, 2015

You asked the questions! I got the answers!

That’s right. Last week, while attending the Mitral Conclave in New York, we received many questions from our community about mitral valve disorders. To answer your questions, I met with several leading surgeons and cardiologists. For example… In this video, Dr. Vinay Badhwar answered Nupur’s question, “Is a heart palpitation a symptom of mitral valve disease?”



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Surgeon Spotlight: Dr. David Adams, Mitral Valve Expert, Harnesses Education to Improve Patient Outcomes

By Adam Pick on April 15, 2015

In 2009, after launching the Surgeon Finder, my inbox quickly filled-up with patient recommendations for Dr. David Adams. As I reviewed the recommendations, I noticed something… Every post was uploaded by a mitral valve repair patient.


Dr. David Adams - Surgeon Spotlight


At the time, I didn’t know who Dr. Adams was. But, a few months later, Dr. Adams and I met by phone.  Then, about a year after that, we had lunch together in San Diego at the Society of Thoracic Surgeons conference.

During that lunch, I found myself repeatedly nodding my head up and down as Dr. Adams spoke about the need for patient education. I learned a lot during that meeting. Specifically, I learned about the advantages of mitral valve repair — which we would later discuss in this educational video.

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“If My Aortic Aneurysm Needs Fixing, Can You Save My Aortic Valve?” asks Ishmael

By Adam Pick on April 9, 2015

Many patients with valvular issues — especially bicuspid aortic valves — also have ascending aortic aneurysms.

At the same time, patients can have isolated aortic aneurysms without any form of valve disease. For example, Ishmael asked me, “Adam, I have a 4.4-cm ascending aortic aneurysm. My doctors have been monitoring me for 9 months. I am going in for a CT scan again soon. My aortic valve is healthy. What is the success rate (or mortality rate) to fix the aneurysm and leave my valve alone during the procedure? I am 60 years old.”


Diagram of An Aortic Root Replacement


To get Ishmael an expert opinion on this question, I contacted Dr. Eric Roselli from the Cleveland Clinic. So you know, Dr. Roselli is aortic aneurysm and valve specialist having successfully treated many patients in our community including Denise Kirchner, Matt Millen, Helen Holmes and, most recently, Cristen Marzula.


Dr. Eric Roselli Heart SurgeonDr. Eric Roselli, Heart Surgeon


In Dr. Roselli’s response to Ishamel, he first addressed the diagnostic process specific to aortic aneurysm and valve therapy:

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Heart Hospital Tour: The Carilion Clinic

By Adam Pick on April 1, 2015

Two years ago at the TCT conference in San Francisco, I was very fortunate to connect with Dr. Jason Foerst, an interventional cardiologist that specializes in transcatheter valve therapy. When we met, Dr. Foerst was going through the process of launching a Heart Valve Clinic — which is no easy task.

Fast forward 24 months… I am thrilled to report that Dr. Foerst and the his team achieved their goal. The Carilion Heart Valve Clinic is now helping patients who need both surgical therapy and non-invasive transcatheter treatment for aortic stenosis and mitral regurgitation.

On a recent trip through Virginia, I went inside the the Carilion Clinic to learn more. Here are the highlights from my tour:


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Special Patient Video: What Do Christine & Pedro Have in Common?

By Adam Pick on March 23, 2015

[Update: Please note that Dr. Allan Stewart is no longer performing surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital.]

On a recent trip to New York, I was very fortunate to meet Christine Pittelli, a full-time mother of two girls, and Pedro Mejias, a world record power lifter who has bench pressed 645 pounds.

I had a great time with Christine and Pedro. Hearing their success stories was both inspiring and educational. I learned a lot about bicuspid aortic valves, aneurysms, valve repairs, minimally invasive techniques and Dr. Allan Stewart, their surgeon. For these reasons, I just posted this video.



Many thanks to Christine Pittelli and Pedro Mejias for sharing their stories with me and our community. Plus, a special thanks goes out to Dr. Allan Stewart for his extraordinary care of our patients. Dr. Stewart has successfully treated 100+ patients from our website. 🙂

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Atrial Fibrillation Education Center Launches Now!

By Adam Pick on March 16, 2015

Since launching this website, I’ve connected with many patients who were diagnosed with both heart valve disease and atrial fibrillation (AFib), which is an abnormal heart rhythm.  According to reports, about 30% of patients with valvular disorders also have AFib. So, it’s pretty common.

However… I recently learned that about 70% of patients diagnosed with valve disease and atrial fibrillation DO NOT get atrial fibrillation treatment during their valve repair or valve replacement procedures. Yikes!!!

For these reasons, I just built a new Atrial Fibrillation Education Center to help patients get educated and empowered specific to heart valve disease and AFib. Here’s a quick, instructional video about the new AFib Education Center. (A written transcript of this video is provided below for the hearing impaired members of our community.)



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Linda “Gets Her Life Back” After Mitral Valve & Maze Procedure

By Adam Pick on March 16, 2015

The highlight of my day is meeting and spending time with patients. I love hearing their stories. I love getting to know them. I often find myself in awe and then tears after listening to their inspirational stories.

That said… I recently connected with Linda Staples during my travels to Indianapolis. Linda, who was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and mitral valve disease, really touched and moved me. To share Linda’s story with you, we filmed this video together.



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Ask the Expert: What Should You Know About Atrial Fibrillation & Heart Valve Disease?

By Adam Pick on March 16, 2015

To support the launch of our new Atrial Fibrillation Education Center, I traveled to Norfolk, Virginia to meet with Dr. Jonathan Philpott, a cardiac surgeon at Sentara Heart Hospital, who specializes in concomitant heart valve and atrial fibrillation therapy.

During my interview, Dr. Philpott shared many insights about the symptoms, the causes and the risks of atrial fibrillation. In addition, Dr. Philpott shared some eye-opening facts about the lack of AFib treatment for patients who undergo heart valve repair or replacement surgery. Specifically, Dr. Philpott noted that up to 70% of patients who have heart valve surgery do not get surgical AFib treatment using the Maze procedure. Essentially, the AFib is just “left behind”.



On behalf of our patients and caregivers, I wanted to thank Dr. Philpott and the Sentara Heart Team for taking the time to share their very important research and clinical experiences with our community.

Keep on tickin!

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Special Announcement: “Patient Day 2015” to be Hosted by Edwards Lifesciences on March 13

By Adam Pick on March 9, 2015

This is pretty darn awesome! If you are the recipient of an Edwards Lifesciences valve or repair ring, here’s a really neat community event that I want to share with you.

Heart valve innovator and manufacturer Edwards will be hosting its first-ever “Patient Day” on Friday, March 13. During this event, Edwards heart valve patients will connect in real-time at the company’s corporate headquarters in Irvine, California, to share their stories and explore how they can better support each other and improve the lives of future heart valve patients.


2015 Patient Day for Heart Valve Patients at Edwards Lifesciences


This educational exchange will help Edwards and its partners, including patients, caregivers and non-profits, improve the patient experience and outcomes.

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Linda’s Challenge: Can You Hear My Mechanical Heart Valve Replacement Tick?

By Adam Pick on March 2, 2015

As patients evaluate their heart valve replacement choices, one question patients often have about mechanical valves is, “Will I hear the valve tick?”

It’s a great question. So you know, sound is one of the differences between mechanical valves and tissue valves. Mechanical valve replacements are known to make a ticking sound while tissue valves are silent.

To help you better understand the actual ticking sound of a mechanical valve, I filmed this impromptu video with Linda Kincaid, a patient from Indiana, who had a mechanical valve implanted last year.



Fyi… I could barely hear Linda’s mechanical valve tick. To me, it sounded almost like a wrist watch ticking. Could you hear it? To leave a comment, scroll below!

Keep on tickin!

The “Cheetah” Website Update Goes Live

By Adam Pick on March 2, 2015

Hi Everybody,

Sorry for being a little quiet as of late. So you know, we’ve been working on a very significant website update.

“Why?” you might be wondering. Well, after we relaunched our website last August, we were not completely prepared for the increased traffic and patient interactions across the website. As we reviewed the website code, we found several opportunities to optimize the code and implement new technologies to enhance your experience at (HVS).


Website Update


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Surgeon Q&A: “What About Minimally Invasive Mitral Valve Surgery?” asks Melanie

By Adam Pick on February 26, 2015

A key question for patients needing heart valve surgery is, “What type of incision will be used to access and then repair or replace my heart valve?”

For example, Melanie just asked me, “Can you please tell me if the mitral valve can be replaced via minimally invasive surgery? I need mine replaced. I was told that only mitral valve repairs can be done using less invasive techniques. Is that true?”


Minimally Invasive Mitral Valve SurgeryDiagram of Minimally Invasive Approach to the Mitral Valve


I wanted to provide Melanie an expert response. So, I contacted Dr. Marc Gillinov from the Cleveland Clinic. So you know, Dr. Gillinov is a valve specialist. About 90% of his surgeries involve valve therapy. Most importantly, Dr. Gillinov has helped over 100 patients from our community including Lee Corbin, Ralph Mason, and Anita Devine. In addition to all of that great stuff, Dr. Gillinov is a super nice guy who also co-wrote Heart 411.

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“What About Sternal Nonunion After Heart Surgery?” asks John

By Adam Pick on February 24, 2015

I just received a great question from John about sternal clicking after open heart surgery.

In his email, John writes to me, “Adam,  I have a sternal click.  It started 2 days post op where I was having trouble sleeping on my back. Attempting to sleep on my side, I felt a decisive “thud” and immediately rolled back and my chest seemed to right itself back.  I continued to experience this click as I had little sternal pain and was liberal in my movements.  I then researched the topic and came across some info on nonunion of the sternotomy and became concerned.  Is this common for patients? What is a nonunion of the sternum? What can be done to prevent this? What can be done to correct it? Thanks! John”


Xray of Sternon NonunionXray of Sternal Nonunion


To get John an expert response, I contacted Dr. T. Sloane Guy.

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Free Webinar eBook & Video: “Advances in Mitral Valve Surgery and Valve Management Guidelines” with Dr. Adams, Dr. Nishimura & Me

By Adam Pick on February 18, 2015

Great news. If you missed our recent webinar, “Advances in Mitral Valve Surgery; Plus, Valve Management Guidelines” with Dr. David Adams, Dr. Rick Nishimura and myself, you can now download the free 40-page eBook by clicking here.


Download Advances in Mitral Valve Surgery


Watch The Webinar Filmed In Dr. Adams’ Office!

In addition to the eBook, you can also watch the webinar that was filmed live from Dr. Adams’ office at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

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Surgeon Q&A: “Is it Possible to Remove the Calcium From My Bicuspid Aortic Valve?” asks Rachel

By Adam Pick on February 10, 2015

I just received a great question from Rachel about calcium build-up on bicuspid aortic valves.

Rachel writes to me, “Hi Adam, At 49, I was recently diagnosed with a severely calcified bicuspid aortic valve. I’m told that I will need surgery in the next year. I don’t really have any symptoms… yet. My question is about the calcium on the leaflets. Is it possible for the surgeon to simply remove the calcium to improve the functioning of the valve? Or, does the calcium always damage the valve leaflets to the point where it needs to be replaced? Thanks, Rachel.”


Bicuspid Aortic Valve with Calcium Build-UpBicuspid Aortic Valve with Calcium Build-Up


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