Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 24

Guest Blog: Just 10 Months After Heart Valve Surgery, Fran Conquers The Gulf Coast Triathlon

By Adam Pick on May 16, 2016

The pictures show Fran’s transformation…




Fran’s words amplify his inspirational journey… He wrote to me:

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Surgeon Q&A: Is Ventricular Tachycardia Common after Heart Valve Surgery?

By Adam Pick on May 10, 2016

I just received a great question from Lisa about ventricular tachycardia and heart valve surgery. Lisa asked me, “I was born with tetralogy of fallot and had two heart surgeries before the age of 6. I just had my 3rd surgery at 46 to put in a pulmonary valve. Now, 3 years later, I’m being sent to a specialist to talk about ventricular tachycardia. Is this common with patients like me?”

If you didn’t know… Ventricular tachycardia (or V-tach) is a fast heart rhythm that starts in the lower part of the heart (ventricles). If left untreated, some forms of V-tach may get worse and lead to ventricular fibrillation, which can be life-threatening.


Ventricular Tachycardia and Heart Valve Surgery


That said, I wanted to get Lisa an expert opinion on this very important question. So, I reached out to Dr. Joseph Rowe, a cardiac surgeon at Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, Virginia who has been in practice for over 15 years. So you know, Dr. Rowe has also successfully treated many members from our community including Bobby Broughman and Michael Sitka. 🙂

In response to Lisa’s question, Dr. Rowe first addressed the congenital nature of Lisa’s valvular defect:

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Surgeon Q&A: Should Atrial Fibrillation Get Treated During Heart Valve Surgery?

By Adam Pick on April 25, 2016

If you didn’t know… Many patients with heart valve disease have atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat. According to reports, up to 35% of patients with valvular defects are more likely to have AFib. For this reason, I really appreciated Anita’s question, “Adam – Can anyone having heart valve surgery be a candidate for corrective atrial fibrillation treatment?”

To answer this very important question, I tracked down Dr. Steve Bolling, a leading heart valve surgeon at the University of Michigan.  So you know, Dr. Bolling has successfully treated many patients in our community including Linda Comai, Jeff Adams and George Parish. 🙂

Here’s what Dr. Bolling shared with me.



Many thanks to Anita for her question. And, a special thanks to Dr. Steve Bolling for sharing his clinical expertise and research with our patient community.

Keep on tickin!

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Surgeon Q&A: What Percent of Patients Get Pacemakers After Heart Valve Surgery?

By Adam Pick on April 14, 2016

I recently received a great question from Lori about pacemakers and heart valve surgery. Lori posted at our Facebook page, “Adam, what percentage of patients need pacemakers after valve surgery?”

It’s a great question. And, I wanted to get Lori a great answer. So, at the Heart Valve Summit, I tracked down Dr. Patrick McCarthy, who is Chief of Cardiac Surgery at Northwestern Medicine and the Executive Director at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. If you didn’t know, Dr. McCarthy is heart valve guru who has treated over 100 patients in our community including John DiFazio, Ed Miscovic and Janet Ruddock. 🙂

Here’s Dr. McCarthy’s response to Lori’s question.



Many thanks Lori for her question. I would also like to extend a mighty thanks to Dr. Patrick McCarthy and the entire Northwestern team for their support of our patients, their families and friends.

Keep on tickin!

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Surgeon Q&A: What is the Latest Research on Less Invasive Aortic Valve Surgery?

By Adam Pick on April 5, 2016

Eileen Chen, who is a member of our Facebook community, recently asked me, “Hi Adam, What is the latest research on less invasive aortic valve surgery?”

To answer Eileen’s question, I was very lucky to interview Dr. Allan Stewart during the Heart Valve Summit conference. So you know, Dr. Stewart is an excellent surgeon (and super nice guy) who has successfully treated over 100 patients from our community — including Christine Pittelli, Bill Easton, William Brogna and many others. 🙂

Here’s how Dr. Stewart answered Eileen’s question…



I hope this video helped Eileen (and perhaps you) learn more about less invasive aortic valve surgery techniques. I want to thank Eileen for her question. I also want to extend a humongous thanks to Dr. Allan Stewart for his continued support of our patient community.

Keep on tickin!

P.S. For the hearing impaired members of our community, I have provided a written transcript of this interview below.

Adam: Hi, everybody! It’s Adam with I’m here at the Heart Valve Summit in Chicago, Illinois, and I am thrilled to be with Dr. Allan Stewart. Dr. Stewart, thanks for being with us.

Dr. Stewart:  My pleasure, Adam. Good to see you.

Adam:  We are answering your questions that you submitted at our Facebook page. We’re going to answer a question, Dr. Stewart, from Eileen Chan. She says, “I’m looking into learning about any new research on less invasive aortic valve surgery.” Can you share about what you’re doing in the hospital these days?

Dr. Stewart:  Absolutely, Adam! As we really evolve with new technology and new techniques, there’s a spectrum of less invasive surgery. It’s not necessary anymore to make a foot-long cut down the center of the breastbone and open it up; the incision you had many years ago. We’ve evolved now, and we have better techniques and better technology.

A standard aortic open heart surgery is still done with a chest incision, but the chest incision is only about five centimeters, about two and a half, three inches long. Now there are two options for that. One option is right through the breastbone at the top, where we make an upside down ‘T’, but the skin incision is very tiny and we put it together with titanium plates. That way you can get back to function very, very quickly in life, and you won’t alarm in the airport.

The other option is to go right through the side of the chest. Now, this is not a cosmetically appealing option to a woman because it’s right into the breast tissue. For a woman such as Eileen, I would favor the tiny incision down low. She can still wear the plunging neck gowns and the scar won’t show.

Now, I don’t know Eileen’s age but the other options available for less invasive surgery is TAVR, which we have a very robust program.

Adam:  Dr. Stewart, for people who don’t know what TAVR means, can you explain that what technology is?

Dr. Stewart: TAVR is obviously an acronym. TAVR means trans-aortic valve replacement — transcatheter. What transcatheter means is that the valve is not implanted with open-heart surgery; the valve is implanted through a neostick in the groin. Patients are normally away; they’re not even asleep for it anymore. It takes about two hours to do and the patients are home usually in two or three days. That’s how you and I will have our heart valves replaced in 20 years, but it’s something that’s reserved for elderly people right now and patients who are at high to intermediate risk for surgery.

As time goes on and more information is given to us, we’re now backing that risk profile down so that that’s going to be the standard of care soon for everyone.

Adam: Well, Dr. Stewart, as always, thanks for your support of this community, all the educational support, of course the care that you’re giving to all the great people out there. Thanks for what you do!

From Immediate Bed Rest to a “Valve-in-Valve” Procedure, This Is Jesse’s Story

By Adam Pick on March 18, 2016

Jesse had been put on immediate bed rest. Jesse had not one… But, two heart surgeries. Then, he needed a third. Jesse learned of a new technology known as a “Valve-in-Valve” procedure that was in clinical trials. This is his story.



Thanks so much to Jesse, Jean, Molly and the entire McBride family for letting me into their home and into their lives. This is the first “Valve-in-Valve” patient success story that I’ve filmed. Hopeful, it will not be the last. 🙂

And… A humongous thanks goes out to Dr. Chris Malaise for helping educate our community about the “Valve-in-Valve” program at Northwestern Medicine. This really is an amazing technology!!!

Keep on tickin!

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Technology Update: Can A Mitral Valve Be Replaced Using A Catheter?

By Adam Pick on March 18, 2016

At the recent Heart Valve Summit, I received several questions about the latest technologies including TAVR, sutureless valves and the MitraClip. I also received questions about the new transcather mitral valve replacement device that is currently in a feasibility study.

So… To educate our community, I tracked down Dr. Richard Bae, who manages the interventional echocardiography lab at Minneapolis Heart Institute. Here are the highlights from our chat:



I hope this video helped all of us learn more about transcatheter mitral valve replacement devices that are currently in a feasibility study. Many thanks to Dr. Richard Bae for sharing his clinical experience and research specific to this new therapy. Needless to say, this is very exciting!

Keep on tickin!

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Surgeon Q&A: Is It Safe for Patients with Heart Valve Disease to Exercise?

By Adam Pick on March 10, 2016

At the recent Heart Valve Summit, I received a great question from John about exercise and heart valve disease. John, who has a leaking heart valve, asked me, “Does exercise put me at risk?”

To answer John’s question, I was very lucky to interview Dr. Edward Savage from the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, Florida (which is close to Fort Lauderdale). So you know, Dr. Savage is a super nice guy who has successfully treated many patients in our community including Philip Lonigro, Lynda Minkowski and Robert Koch.



I hope this helped John (and perhaps you) learn more about exercise, heart valve disease and symptoms. Many thanks to John for his question and a special thanks goes out to Dr. Edward Savage for sharing his clinical experiences and research with our community!

Keep on tickin!

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The Patient Mind: Before, During & After Heart Surgery

By Adam Pick on February 24, 2016

As many patients and families will tell you… The heart valve surgery process can be an emotional roller coaster. As I personally experienced, there can be wonderful highs (waking up with a fixed heart) and there can be unexpected lows (cardiac depression).

For this reason, I jumped at the chance to interview Dr. Kim Feingold, founder of the Cardiac Behavioral Medicine Service at Northwestern Medicine, and Dr. Duc Thinh Pham, a cardiac surgeon, about their approach to helping patients mentally prepare for surgery.



On behalf of our entire community, I can not thank Dr. Feingold and Dr. Pham for sharing their research and their clinical experiences on this very important topic. In my opinion, these tips are invaluable to having a complete recovery of the body… and the mind!!!

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Which 8 Numbers Lower Heart Disease Risk Factors?

By Adam Pick on February 19, 2016

Ready to learn 8 important numbers that lower risk factors for heart disease? If so, check out this awesome new infographic from Northwest Regional Heart & Vascular to celebrate Heart Month!




Many thanks to Dr. Thomas Molloy and Adam Lee at Northwest Regional Heart & Vascular for sending over this educational infographic!

We really appreciate your ongoing support of our community!

Keep on tickin!

Launching Now: Smiling Scar Selfie Team App!!!

By Adam Pick on February 12, 2016

Have you noticed something? The patients in our community have been posting wonderful Selfies after their surgeries. Actually, they’re not just smiling… They’re also showing off their scars as a badge of courage. It’s beyond inspirational for our community and for future patients. However, there was no “home” for these selfies. 🙁

Well… I wanted to do something about that.

So… Today we’re officially launching the Smiling Scar Selfie Team app!!! 🙂

You can learn all about it in the quick video below.



I’m very hopeful the Smiling Scar Selfie Team app will be inspirational and fun for our whole community. I would also like to thank all of our sponsors who made this possible and a special thanks to Darshan Kahler and the Tradable Bits team who developed this unique application.

Keep on tickin!

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Technology Update: FDA Approves Perceval Sutureless Heart Valve; 7 Facts You Need To Know

By Adam Pick on January 26, 2016

In case you missed it… The Perceval Sutureless Heart Valve just received a Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approval on January 11, 2016. This is really big news as the Perceval is the first rapid-deployment, sutureless heart valve for patients with aortic stenosis.




To educate our patient community about the significant implications of the Perceval’s FDA approval, I contacted three leading cardiac surgeons who were part of the clinical trials which led to Perceval’s FDA approval – Dr. Niv Ad, Dr. Gorav Ailawadi and Dr. Eric Roselli.




1. Why is the FDA approval of the Perceval Sutureless Valve important for the evolution of valve therapy?

Dr. Eric Roselli, who is the Director of the Aortic Center at the Cleveland Clinic, wrote to me, “Most simply, it provides us another option in the surgical treatment of aortic valve disease. As a sutureless device it can be delivered and fixed into the heart faster than a conventional sutured repair. Because it is collapsible, it may facilitate the use of less invasive approaches like mini right thoracotomy which is currently only offered at a few centers. It is somewhat of a hybrid approach with benefits of simplicity like TAVR while maintaining the benefits of surgical AVR like excision of the native aortic valve and a very low rate of perivalvular leak.

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Theoretical Physicist, Boris Kayser, Travels to New York for Mitral Valve Surgery & Bagels!

By Adam Pick on January 23, 2016

[This story is brought to you by the Mitral Foundation in collaboration with]

It’s not everyday I get a chance to meet a world-renowned, theoretical physicist who works at Fermilab.

So… When I heard that Boris Kayser, a guru in the field of Neutrinos, had a story to tell about his mitral valve repair surgery, I quickly jumped on the opportunity to film this educational video for the Mitral Foundation.



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Surgeon Q&A: Will A Mechanical Heart Valve Replacement Stop Atrial Fibrillation?

By Adam Pick on January 23, 2016

During the Heart Valve Summit, I received some great questions from our community. One of the questions from Leslie at our Facebook page was, “After several years of paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) and a prolapsed mitral valve, I finally had my bad valve replaced by a mechanical mitral valve. Will this stop my AFib?”

To answer Leslie’s question, I was very fortunate to connect with Dr. John Johnkoski. So you know, Dr. Johnkoski is a cardiac surgeon and the Co-Director of the Atrial Fibrillation Clinic at Aspirus in Wausau, Wisconsin.



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Chicago Bulls Coach, Fred Hoiberg, Opens Up About His Heart Valve Surgery

By Adam Pick on January 13, 2016

Imagine your childhood dream of becoming a professional basketball player has come true. Imagine you are leading the NBA in 3-point shooting. Imagine you are in the prime of your career. Then… Imagine you are unexpectedly diagnosed with a life-threatening aortic aneurysm due to a bicuspid aortic valve.

What would you do? How would you handle it? What would you tell your family? What would you tell your team? Which valve replacement would you chose? This is the story of Fred Hoiberg…



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Thanks to the MitraClip, Charlotte Cummings is Walking Again!

By Adam Pick on January 13, 2016

Charlotte Cummings, 81, could no longer walk the streets of Chicago due to shortness of breath and fatigue. She suffered from severe mitral valve regurgitation and other health concerns. Unfortunately, Charlotte was not a candidate for mitral valve surgery due to the risks associated with traditional surgical approaches.

Then, Charlotte’s medical team told her about the MitraClip, a new transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVR) device. This is her story…



Many thanks to Charlotte for taking the time to meet with me and share her story. I would also like to thank Dr. Chris Malaisrie, Dr. Mark Ricciardi and Dr. Mehlman for their wonderful care of Charlotte at Northwestern.

Keep on tickin’ Charlotte!

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Top 10 Heart Valve Stories of 2015!

By Adam Pick on December 31, 2015

2015 was another amazing year for our community!

As we prepare to enter 2016, I thought it might be helpful (and fun) to look back at the stories that inspired us, educated us and moved us to share our heart valve experiences.



10. The Heart Valve Summit Gets Big Applause

In October, we were very lucky to attend the Heart Valve Summit, a special conference where 500+ surgeons, cardiologists, nurses, and medical professionals gather to discuss the latest therapies to treat heart valve disease. When we posted several pictures from the 3-day event in Chicago, our community quickly responded with appreciation and thankfulness as 950+ people ‘Liked’ our photos at Facebook. To see the photos, click here.



9. Linda Returns To Her Garden!

There is nothing better than a great patient success story. So, in February, our video team traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana to meet Linda Kincaid and her daughter, Kristen. This educational video was sponsored by the Alliance for Aging Research which recently launched LivingWithValveDisease.0rg, a new website for seniors with heart valve disease. Upon posting Linda’s video, this wonderful story racked up over 1,000 Facebook Likes. (Fyi, Linda’s surgery was performed by Dr. Marc Gerdisch.)

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Cardiologist Q&A: What Should You Know About Atrioventricular Block After Heart Valve Surgery?

By Adam Pick on December 9, 2015

I received several great questions during our ‘Ask Me Anything’ video series at the Heart Valve Summit. For example, Pamela posted at our Facebook page, “Can you talk about Atrioventricular Block after heart valve surgery?”

To answer Pamela’s question, I was very lucky to connect with Dr. Robert Bonow, the former president of the American Heart Association, one of the lead authors of the 2014 Heart Valve Management Guidelines and a Professor of Cardiology at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago. So you know, Dr. Bonow is a great guy who has treated many patients from our community. 🙂

Here is Dr. Bonow’s response to Pamela’s question…



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At Edwards Lifesciences Patient Day 2015, Stewart Gully Can’t Hold Back Tears of Joy!

By Adam Pick on November 17, 2015

At Edwards Lifesciences Patient Day 2015, Stewart Gully can’t hold back tears of joy, thankfulness and appreciation.

Watch this video to learn why…



Many, many, many thanks to Stewart for sharing his experiences and his emotions with our community!

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Free Webinar eBook & Video: “What Should You Know About Heart Valves & Atrial Fibrillation?”

By Adam Pick on November 13, 2015

Great news. If you missed our recent webinar, “What Should You Know About Heart Valves & Atrial Fibrillation?” with Dr. Patrick McCarthy, Dr. James Thomas, Jane Kruse and myself, you can now download the free eBook by clicking here.


Free Heart Valve & Atrial Fibrillation eBook


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