Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 28

Understanding The Patient Perspective with Dr. Randolph Chitwood

By Adam Pick on May 8, 2013

It’s a rare occurrence when I meet a world-renown cardiac surgeon who has also been a patient.

That said, when I recently connected with Dr. Randolph Chitwood, I wanted to learn more about his heart surgery experience and how it shaped his career as a surgeon. So you know, Dr. Chitwood is a heart valve guru having pioneered many techniques including robotic mitral valve repair surgery.



Thanks to Dr. Randolph Chitwood for sharing his experiences as a patient and a surgeon. Also, I want to thank Dr. Chitwood and the East Carolina Heart Institute for taking such great care of many patients from our community including Scott Newson, Lori Glew and Amy Machty.

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“Why Is Ankle Swelling A Symptom Of Mitral Regurgitation?” Asks Andrea

By Adam Pick on May 8, 2013

I received a great question from Andrea about the symptoms of heart valve disease. In her note, Andrea writes to me, “Hi Adam, My 81-year old mom is experiencing symptoms due to mitral regurgitation. She is constantly short of breath and has ankle swelling. My question is… Why are her ankles swelling? Will that go away after surgery?”


Ankle Swelling Symptom Heart Valve Disease


To answer Andrea’s question, I contacted Dr. Adam Harmon, a cardiac surgeon from Sequoia Hospital in Northern California who has performed over 3,000 heart procedures and more than 400 valve operations. In his response to Andrea, Dr. Harmon explained:

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Surgeon Q&A: Understanding Aortic Aneurysms & Valve Disease (including Bicuspid Aortic Valves) with Dr. Eric Roselli

By Adam Pick on April 28, 2013

As we learned in the recent video about atrial fibrillation, other cardiac disorders can accompany a heart valve disease diagnosis. For example, many patients in our community were also diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm.

To help you learn more about aortic aneurysms, I recently met with Dr. Eric Roselli, a heart surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. So you know, Dr. Roselli has performed successful surgery on many members of our community including Denise Kirchner, Matt Miller and John Carr. Here are the video highlights from our discussion.



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Lil’ Victor Readies For 3rd Heart Surgery

By Adam Pick on April 28, 2013

In 2010, we donated $5,000 to the Gift of Life to help pay for the cardiac surgery of Victor Saravia, an incredibly cute, one-year old boy from El Salvador. The procedure — that was performed by Dr. John Morales at Driscoll Hospital at Corpus Cristi, Texas — was a success and Victor went home to his family.



The other day, I received an unexpected update from the Saravia family on my Facebook page. As you can see in the picture above, Victor has transformed from a baby to a toddler – who appears to be quite fond of the Mario Brothers toys.

In addition to the picture, I also received a note from Patricia Saravia.

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Another Great Infographic To Educate You About Heart Disease

By Adam Pick on April 28, 2013

The response to our aortic stenosis infographic was extraordinary. Thus far, the infographic received over 300 Facebook ‘Likes’ and more than 135 Twitter posts.


Aortic Valve Stenosis Infographic Facts


Given this response, I was very fortunate to learn of another very helpful and very educational infographic about the realities of the heart disease epidemic.

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“A New Trend To Aortic Vave Repair Surgery?” with Dr. Bavaria

By Adam Pick on April 19, 2013

In the past, I’ve filled this blog with hundreds of stories about mitral valve repair procedures. However, over the past 12 months, I have started to hear and report about aortic valve repair surgery — from patients and physicians.

To learn more about this new trend to aortic valve repair surgery, I met with Dr. Joseph Bavaria. So you know, Doctor Bavaria is the Vice Chief, Division of Cardiovascular Surgery and the Director of the Thoracic Aortic Surgery Program at Penn Medicine. In addition, Dr. Bavaria has performed successful surgery on many members of our community including Rebecca Roberts, Hubert Karreman and Craig Fisher.



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Another Spring Break… Another Heart Valve Journals Reunion in Florida

By Adam Pick on April 19, 2013

This is just great.

I was just surfing through Heart Valve Journals when I came across a wonderful update from Cheryl Irvine. Cheryl is a long-time journalist and mitral valve surgery patient. In some regard, Cheryl is a metaphorical “Mom” of the patient community.

As you might recall from this post, Cheryl, who lives in Ontario, Canada, organized a spring break reunion of several patients from HVJ in Florida in 2012. Well, this year… She did it again!


sping-break-heart-valve-reunionDuane, Peggy, Peter, Cheryl, Fran, Duane


As Cheryl writes, “Just dropping by to add a couple of pictures to my journal. For the second year in a row we arranged a small get-together in sunny Florida with HVJ friends Duane and Peggy Hunt and Fran and Peter Zilko. Unfortunately Susan and Richard Ingham couldn’t attend in person so we managed to visit via Skype.” To read more from Cheryl’s journal, click here.

Thanks so much to Cheryl for sharing the picture and the reunion update from Florida!

Keep on tickin!

True or False: Heart Valve Infections are Rising in the United States

By Adam Pick on April 19, 2013

Earlier today, I was reading the latest online edition of US News and World Report when I came across an interesting fact about infections that can lead to valvular disorders. That said, I thought you might like a daily dose of heart valve trivia.

True or False: There is a steady rise of heart valve infections, also known as bacterial endocarditis, in the United States? (Scroll below for the answer.)




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Dr. Randolph Chitwood & East Carolina Heart Institute Launch Heart Valve Clinic Microsite

By Adam Pick on April 2, 2013

When I started this website 6 years ago, I had no idea what I was doing.  Early on, however, I was very lucky to connect with Dr. Randolph Chitwood, the director of the East Carolina Heart Institute (ECHI) and mitral valve specialist.


Dr. Randolph Chitwood & Me at ECHI


So you know… Dr. Chitwood is also a former patient who had coronary artery bypass surgery in 1998. That said, Dr. Chitwood immediately understood my mission to educate and empower patients. Today, I consider Dr. Chitwood a friend, an advisor and an amazing surgeon who successfully treated many patients in our community — including Scott Newson, Lori Glew and Mary Watson.

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Aortic Stenosis Visualized… For You, Your Family & Friends

By Adam Pick on April 1, 2013

Considering that aortic stenosis 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 aortic stenosis?” to “What are the causes of aortic stenosis?” to “Is the disease dangerous?”

In the past, I have posted several stories and videos about aortic stenosis. However, I wanted to try something different to educate our community. So, I created an Aortic Stenosis Infographic. As you will see below, I tried my best to answer the key questions about aortic stenosis using helpful illustrations. If you like the graphic, please “Like” or “Tweet” it. I am hopeful your social share will educate many people about this under-diagnosed and dangerous disease.

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Surgeon Q & A: Important Facts About Atrial Fibrillation & Heart Valve Disease with Dr. Vincent Gaudiani

By Adam Pick on March 26, 2013

While heart valve disease can be an isolated diagnosis, it is often accompanied by other conditions including coronary artery disease, aortic aneurysm and atrial fibrillation.

To learn more about atrial fibrillation, I met with Dr. Vincent Gaudiani who has performed successful valve surgery on over 50 patients from our community including Roland Watson, Robert Alvernaz and Karen Weinstein.



I hope that helped you learn more about atrial fibrillation, its causes and treatment options. Many thanks to Dr. Gaudiani for taking the time to share his clinical experience and research with our community.

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Medical Mission Update #4: Ramona & Junior Get A “Second Chance” At Life In The Dominican Republic

By Adam Pick on March 22, 2013

The joy I experienced on Day One of the Medical Mission amplified on the second day — as two patients, with severely leaking heart valves, underwent mitral valve repair surgery in the Dominican Republic.


Ramona de la Cruz With Family & Doctors Before Surgery
Dr. Bernarda Cedano, Ramona de la Cruz (with family) & Dr. Fred Milla


The first patient was Ramona de la Cruz. At 68 years young, Ramona, a Jehovah’s Witness, suffered from severe mitral regurgitation. As you can see above, Ramona was surrounded by loving members of her family including her daughter and grand-daughter.

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Surgeon Q & A: The Critical Facts About Mitral Regurgitation with Dr. Patrick McCarthy

By Adam Pick on March 18, 2013

As many patients in our community have been diagnosed with mitral valve regurgitation, I recently met with Doctor Patrick McCarthy to better understand the important facts about this valvular disorder.

So you know… Dr. McCarthy is an inventor and a cardiac surgeon — having performed over 4,000 mitral valve procedures during his 23-year career. Plus, he’s a super nice guy who has helped many patients from our website.



I hope this video helped you learn more about the causes, the progression and the treatment of mitral valve regurgitation. Thanks to Dr. McCarthy for meeting with me and sharing his clinical experience and research with our community.

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Medical Mission Update #3 – An Amazing Day in Santo Domingo!

By Adam Pick on March 15, 2013

I awoke this morning in Santo Domingo with a good feeling. During the day, that feeling transformed from good… to great… to inspired… to extraordinary. The source of that transformation was ‘Day One’ of the Mount Sinai Medical Mission at Hospital General de la Plaza de la Salud (HGPS) in the Dominican Republic. While I could ramble on-and-on about all that we experienced today, I thought it might be fun to share several pictures from this altruistic event.


Leonel Pirchardo With Family Before Surgery
Leonel Pirchado & Family


First, consider the picture of Leonel Pirchado, his wife, three daughters and son-in-law. Leonel, who was the first patient of the day, was diagnosed with severe mitral regurgitation in September. Leonel had a unique disorder known as Barlow’s disease. To remedy that disorder, the Mount Sinai – HGPS team performed a complex bi-leaflet valve repair.

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Surgeon Q & A: Understanding the Connection Between Heart Failure and Valve Disease with Dr. Edwin McGee

By Adam Pick on March 12, 2013

As we have learned together, failing to properly treat valvular disorders can be tragic for patients, their families and friends.  Heart valve disorders — including aortic stenosis and mitral regurgitation — can cause temporary damage to the cardiac muscle and, ultimately, heart failure.

I wanted to learn more about the connection between heart failure and valvular disease so I recently met with Dr. Edwin McGee. This educational video contains the highlights of that interview. For the hearing impaired members of our community, I have provided a written transcript below.



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Medical Mission Update #2 – How Is Dr. Ricardo Lazala Preparing Mount Sinai For The Mission?

By Adam Pick on March 12, 2013

As I prepare to join the Mount Sinai team for a Medical Mission to the Dominican Republic, I wanted to learn more about this philanthropic effort to treat patients with heart valve disease. For that reason, I contacted Dr. Ricardo Lazala, the Mission Director and Assistant Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Mount Sinai. Below, you will find the highlights from our conversation.


 Dr. Ricardo Lazala With Patient
Dr. Ricardo Lazala, Mission Director, with Patient in Dominican Republic (2011)


Adam: Thanks so much for connecting with me today. I’m very excited to join your team in the Dominican Republic on March 13-17. I’m curious… How long has this mission been in the planing process?

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After Giving Birth to Olivia, Sara Readies for Aortic Valve Replacement and Aorta Repair Surgery

By Adam Pick on March 10, 2013

Over the years, I have been very fortunate to know Sara Bloomfield. I first shared Sara’s story in 2011 — after Sara and her husband, Matt, became pregnant while closely monitoring her bicuspid aortic valve, dilated aorta and coarctation of the descending aorta. Then, in 2012, we celebrated the birth of their daughter, Olivia.

Now, after several years of “watchful waiting”, Sara is scheduled for aortic valve replacement and aorta repair surgery on March 21.


Sara, Matt & Olivia
Sara, Matt & Olivia


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If You Like It… “Like” It!

By Adam Pick on March 10, 2013

Hey everybody,

As you may have already noticed, we’re starting to roll-out social sharing icons — for Facebook and Twitter — across this blog and other parts of the website. Now, if you like a post… You can share it with a simple click of a button. How neat is that?


Facebook Icon With Thumbs Up


I hope you “Like” this new feature.

Keep on tickin!

Fact or Fiction: Aortic Stenosis Can Be “Fatal”

By Adam Pick on March 5, 2013

A common question I receive from patients diagnosed with aortic stenosis is, “Can this disease really be fatal?”

To provide our community with an expert response to that question, I interviewed Dr. Marc Gillinov at the recent STS conference in Los Angeles. So you know, Dr. Gillinov is a cardiac surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, co-author of Heart 411 and… a super nice guy.



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Medical Mission Update #1: Dominican Republic Here We Come!

By Adam Pick on March 2, 2013

Ready for some exciting news?

After a very, very, very unexpected invitation… I just booked my flights to attend a Cardiac Surgery Medical Mission in the Dominican Republic from March 13-17.


Adam Pick To Join Mount Sinai In Dominican Republic


During this special mission, several members of the Mount Sinai Medical Center, led by Dr. David Adams, MD, will travel to Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic, to teach surgical techniques at the Hospital General Plaza de La Salud (HGPS).

The mission is part of the Mount Sinai – HGPS Cardiovascular Initiative, a philanthropic effort in which these two teams collaborate to provide cardiac surgery to Dominican patients with limited financial resources. Since 2011, the Mount Sinai team has been to the Dominican Republic on two separate occasions — in which they performed both heart valve repair and heart valve replacement procedures.

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