By Adam Pick on September 5, 2012
I’m very happy to announce that Dr. Edwin C. McGee, Jr., a cardiac surgeon from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, has been named the ‘Featured Surgeon’ at HeartValveSurgery.com.
As you may have already seen, Dr. McGee has performed successful heart valve surgery on several patients in our community including – Michael McKeon and Maria Leibold.
Michael McKeon, a former aortic valve replacement patient, stated, “I don’t overstate the facts here – Dr. McGee and his supporting team of doctors and nurses at Northwestern Memorial Hospital saved my life.”
Interestingly, Dr. McGee recently performed an innovative procedure where one ventricular assist device (VAD) was implanted into each ventricle of the patient’s heart, known as biventricular configuration or BiVAD, until a donor heart became available.
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on August 29, 2012
As many of you have shared in this blog and our online community, the process of being diagnosed with heart valve disease can be an isolating experience. So you know, that is why I started this website five years ago. I wanted to connect patients with similar disorders so that we could learn from, relate to and empower each other.
Patient Event Announcement: Let’s Connect At “Important Information For People With Heart Murmurs” on September 18
By Adam Pick on August 28, 2012
You’re invited to a special event titled, “Important Information for People with Heart Murmurs”. This educational event will be hosted by Alta Bates Summit Medical Center at the Lafayette Library in Oakland, California on Tuesday, September 18 at 6:30 pm (PST). To attend the community session, please call (510) 869-6737.
I have to admit… I feel very, very, very honored to be included as a speaker at this event. Along with Dr. Junaid Khan, a heart valve specialist, we will discuss the causes, the symptoms and the treatment of heart valve disease.
By Adam Pick on August 24, 2012
I’ll never forget my 3-week check-up when Dr. Starnes, my heart surgeon, said to me, “Adam, the post-operative echocardiogram shows that your heart is doing excellent… Plus, we wrapped your pulmonary valve during the procedure, so you should benefit from that over time.” In the moment, I didn’t question Dr. Starnes about my wrapped pulmonary valve. To be honest, I didn’t care. I just wanted to hear that my heart was doing well after my double heart valve replacement surgery.
Wrapped Pulmonary Valve Used During Ross Procedure
However, as the community at HeartValveSurgery.com grew, I received several patient questions about “valve wrapping techniques” used during the Ross Procedure, a unique form or aortic valve replacement surgery. For that reason, I contacted Dr. Paul Stelzer, a Ross Procedure specialist at Mount Sinai Medical Center, to discuss this surgical innovation.
By Adam Pick on August 22, 2012
I just received a very interesting from Joan about being tired after heart surgery.
In her email, Joan writes, “I am now 7 weeks post-op and am tired all the time and have no energy. I remember so many folks telling me that after my surgery I would feel so much better and have all this amazing energy. Well, as of now I do not feel as energetic as I did before surgery… by a long shot! I had no real symptoms prior to aortic valve replacement even though the valve was badly diseased. Now, everything is a major effort and I get out of breath with the slightest exertion. I have a feeling it may be caused by the metoprolol drug (the only prescription I take) and I do have a call into my cardiologist to see if I can lower the dosage. I am eating a high protein diet and get lots of rest and a nap every afternoon. Do you know when I might be feeling more energetic?”
I — and many other patients in our community — can relate to Joan. Although each patient heals at different rates, it seems like many of us are lethargic, fatigued and tired after heart surgery. Personally, I remember feeling exhausted for the first ten weeks after my valve replacement surgery. I remember saying to Robyn, my wife, “I’m soooooooo tired. When will I feel like my old self again?”
To learn more about this issue, I contacted Dr. Salenger, Director of Valve Surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, New York. So you know, Doctor Salenger has a specific clinical interest in post-operative care of heart valve replacement and heart valve repair patients.
In his response to Joan, Dr. Salenger noted the following:
Hi Joan – Don’t get discouraged! Everyone is an individual and people recover at different speeds. It is not unusual to still be tired and lack energy at 7 weeks. Some people take 12 weeks or longer to get over the surgery. If you compare your energy levels on a week-to-week basis, you should see some improvement. If you are not improving as time goes on then there are some things for you and your doctor to think about. Your idea about the metoprolol is a good point. Also, ask your cardiologist if any other medications could be a problem. Especially focus on any medications that are new to you. Your physician may also want to check a chest x-ray to make sure your lungs look okay, and evaluate your heart and valve function with an echocardiogram. Most likely, however, you are on a normal post-operative trajectory and can feel confident you will be back in form, with more energy, over time. Hope this is helpful, Dr. Rawn Salenger
I hope this Joan (and perhaps you) learn more about being tired after heart surgery. Thanks to Dr. Salenger for sharing his clinical expertise with our community.
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on August 22, 2012
In case you missed it, U.S. News and World Reports recently published its annual top listing of top hospitals for cardiology and heart surgery.
As I reviewed the list, I noticed that the Cleveland Clinic retained its #1 position on this list. I could be wrong but I think this is the 18th consecutive year that the Cleveland Clinic held this spot. I also noticed that Mount Sinai Hospital broke into the top 10 for the first time since I began monitoring this list.
By Adam Pick on August 14, 2012
By Adam Pick on August 10, 2012
Over the past few weeks, I’ve received several emails from patients about the benefits of Vitamin K2 specific to heart disease.
For example, Alicja wrote to me, “Adam – Thanks for all of your help. I am sending you an article about Vitamin K2 and how it is preventing calcification of arteries, heart valve stenosis and osteoporosis. I have been taking Vitamin K2 since last September and I am feeling much better. I feel that other people should read about Vitamin K2 and its potential benefits for heart disease patients. Thanks! Alicia”
Within her email, Alicja forward a link to very interesting article titled, “Vitamin K2: Bone and Heart Health”. I reviewed the article and became intrigued by Vitamin K2 given its potential value for blocked arteries and calcified heart valves. (So you know, I began using supplements and fish oil after my heart valve surgery to help with ongoing fatigue.)
By Adam Pick on August 9, 2012
I wanted to extend a big “Happy Anniversary!” to Robert Anderson from Groton, Massachusetts. As you can read in his note below, Robert had a congenital bicuspid aortic valve that needed to be replaced. Here is more from Robert about his journey and his celebration:
Hi Adam – I just wanted to say ‘Thank you’ for the book. I just passed my 1st anniversary for stenotic bicuspid aortic valve replacement and an ascending aortic resection for a non-ruptured aneurysm at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. My wife bought your book a few weeks before my surgery and I still thumb through it (more so the last few chapters now).
Robert Anderson – Heart Valve Replacement Patient
Here’s a photo taken a little less than 3 months after the surgeries.
By Adam Pick on August 6, 2012
In our patient and caregiver community, the name Doctor Paul Stelzer is synonymous with the Ross Procedure. As you might know, Dr. Paul Stelzer has performed over 500 Ross Procedures during his 28-year career. Dr. Stelzer has performed the last 300 Ross Procedures have occurred without patient mortality.
A testament to his reputation, many patients from our community — including Chris Dixon, Jeff Shebovsky and Mark Kroto — have traveled across the country to have this unique form of aortic valve replacement performed by Dr. Stelzer.
By Adam Pick on August 3, 2012
My inbox continues to receive success stories from patients all over the world — especially after Theresa’s recent post.
In particular, I received a note from Jim Bonk, an aortic valve and root replacement patient from San Diego, California. So you know, Jim posted the first ‘Guest Blog’ at HeartValveSurgery.com way back in 2007. That said, I was excited to open Jim’s email.
Jeanne & Jim Bonk – Aortic Valve Replacement Patient In Russia
Well… Five years after surgery, Jim’s positive attitude towards his surgery and his ‘Second Chance’ at life continues.
By Adam Pick on July 27, 2012
One of my favorite parts of this project is hearing from patients after their surgeries. Yesterday, Theresa sent me a thoughtful note that touched on several elements of the surgical process. That said, I thought you might like to read and learn from Theresa’s experience.
Theresa LoMonaco – Heart Valve Replacement Patient
Here is Theresa’s note:
By Adam Pick on July 26, 2012
If you didn’t know, our new Facebook page is gaining momentum. With over 500 fans, the conversations among our patients are educational and empowering. To see and ‘Like’ our Facebook page, click here.
So you know, our Facebook page has several educational videos and inspirational patient success stories.
By Adam Pick on July 20, 2012
First, it was Jim and Jeff at Mount Sinai. Then, it was Cheryl and the Florida Valve Reunion. Next, it was Tom and Trent at The Heart Hospital. This time, it’s Denise and Connie at the Cleveland Clinic.
It’s really amazing to see how Heart Valve Journals, our social network, is connecting patients all around the world — both online and offline.
As you can see in the picture above, Denise and Connie, aka Heart Valve Journals Sisters, just met in-person at the Cleveland Clinic. FYI, Denise had mitral valve repair surgery with Dr. Eric Roselli on May 29. As for Connie, Dr. Lars Svensson replaced her calcified bicuspid aortic valve on July 17.
In Denise’s journal, she writes:
By Adam Pick on July 20, 2012
As we continue to track and discuss the medical technologies that are impacting heart valve therapy, I just learned that Medtronic recently began patient enrollment in a unique study that will examine the performance of its CoreValve transcatheter aortic valve replacement device in ‘intermediate risk’ patients.
Medtronic CoreValve System
The randomized trial, known as the Surgical Replacement and Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (SURTAVI) study, will enroll 2,500 patients in 75 clinical sites around the world. Ultimately, this trial will be used to
determine if the CoreValve performs better, worse or the same as traditional, open heart surgical techniques. Specifically, mortality and stroke rate will be closely monitored during the trial.
By Adam Pick on July 20, 2012
My brother, Doug, sent me this. I couldn’t help but find it comical. As they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words. So, using basic math, these 9 pictures equals 9,000 words… Enjoy!
By Adam Pick on July 14, 2012
As a follow-up to Wednesday’s post about Northwestern’s Bicuspid Aortic Valve Program, I received an interesting note from Cindy. She writes, “I was born with a bicuspid aortic valve and have already had valve replacement surgery. My question is, ‘Do my children need to be worried about inheriting this? Have you had Ethan checked?'”
Ethan, My Son
Following my video interview with Dr. Patrick McCarthy (see below), Robyn and I were motivated to have Ethan, my 3-year old son, checked for all forms of congenital valve defects. As you might imagine, Ethan was not a fan of having an echocardiogram. However, after promising Ethan a new Buzz Lightyear toy, he settled down and let the technician successfully perform the 25-minute test.
By Adam Pick on July 11, 2012
One trend I’ve noticed over the years is that surgeons and cardiac centers are becoming “sub-specialists” specific to heart valve treatment. By sub-specialization, I mean that clinics are extending significant resources to advance valvular therapy by disease type, by surgical technique and by patient risk factors. For example, three weeks ago, I met with a surgeon who suggested that 99% of his procedures are mitral valve repairs.
Last Monday, the trend to “sub-specialization” became more apparent when Chicago-based Northwestern Memorial Hospital launched a dedicated Bicuspid Aortic Valve Program within its distinguished Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute.
Prior to learning about Northwestern’s BAV program, I knew that a handful of surgeons and cardiac centers specialized in bicuspid aortic valve treatment. However, I had yet to hear of a complete, end-to-end program dedicated to bicuspid aortic valve disease — a disorder that impacts 1%-2% of the population.
By Adam Pick on July 10, 2012
This morning, I received a great email from Vicki which reads, “Hi Adam – Is mitral stenosis the same thing as a leaking heart valve?”
I think Vicki’s question is excellent because many patients are often confused when we attempt to understand the medical terms used during our appointments with primary care physicians, cardiologists and surgeons. Personally, I only understood 10% of the medical terms the cardiologist used to explain my severe aortic stenosis diagnosis.
Mitral Valve Stenosis
That said, the answer to Vicki’s question is… No, mitral stenosis is not the same thing as a leaking heart valve disorder.
By Adam Pick on July 7, 2012
For those patients and caregivers preparing for — or recovering from — heart valve surgery, I wanted to quickly share that the 2012 edition of my book, The Patient’s Guide To Heart Valve Surgery, is now available. This 5th revision includes several updates and contributions from leading physicians like Dr. McCarthy, Dr. Bolling, Dr. Adams, Dr. Stewart, Dr. Gaudiani, Dr. Roselli and more.
As you can see below, Robyn (my wife) and Ethan (my son) helped me pack up our first shipment of books that were just dropped off at the post office.
Ethan & Robyn Help Me Pack Up The New 2012 Edition
I’m hopeful the book helps guide you and those around you through heart valve surgery.
Keep on tickin!