Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 28

Surgical Innovation: Valve Wrapping Techniques Used During The Ross Procedure With Dr. Paul Stelzer

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.

 

Pulmonary Valve Wrapped During The Ross ProcedureWrapped 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.

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“When Will I Feel More Energetic & Less Tired After Heart Surgery?” Asks Joan

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?”

 

Woman Showing Tiredness

 

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!
Adam

New ‘Top-Ranked Hospitals For Cardiology & Heart Surgery’ Announced

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.

 

Seal Of US News & World Report For Cardiac Care Centers

 

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.

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“Can A Heart Valve Replacement Go Bad Because of Extensive Exercise?” Asks Joe

By Adam Pick on August 14, 2012

I just received a great question from Joe about heart valve replacement durability and exercise after heart valve surgery.

 

Running Hearts Drawing

 

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Does Vitamin K2 Prevent Calcified Heart Valves & Blocked Arteries?

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”

 

Vitamin K2 & Calcifed Heart Valve Stenosis

 

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.)

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“Happy Anniversary!” To Robert Following Bicuspid Aortic Valve Replacement Surgery

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.

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Jeff, Chris & Mark Celebrate Dr. Paul Stelzer, A Ross Procedure Guru and A Super Nice Guy

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.

 

Patients Of Dr. Paul Stelzer

 

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Patient Update: 5 Years After Aortic Valve Replacement Surgery, Jim Is ‘Not Putting Things Off’

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.

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Guest Post: After Bicuspid Valve Replacement Surgery, Theresa Focuses On Recovery Progress

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 Lomanco - Heart Surgery Patient With Red Heart Pillow
Theresa LoMonaco – Heart Valve Replacement Patient

 

Here is Theresa’s note:

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Connect To 500+ Patients With A ‘Like’ At Our New Facebook Page!

By Adam Pick on July 26, 2012

Great news!

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.

 

Facebook Fan Page Of Patient Advocacy Website

 

So you know, our Facebook page has several educational videos and inspirational patient success stories.

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Denise and Connie, Heart Valve Journals Sisters, Connect At Cleveland Clinic

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.

 

Denise, Connie, Dr. Roselli & Dr. Svensson

 

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:

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SURTAVI Update: CoreValve Begins Enrolling Patients For ‘Intermediate Risk’ Study

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.
 

The CoreValve TAVI Solution By Medtronic
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.

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Friday Fun: Why Do Men Really Die Before Women?

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!
 

 

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“Did Ethan Have An Echocardiogram To Check For Bicuspid Aortic Valve?” Asks Cindy

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?'”

 

Photo Of Young Boy On Jungle Gym
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.

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Northwestern’s Bicuspid Aortic Valve Program Highlights Trend To Sub-Specialization

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.

 

Northwestern Bicuspid Aortic Valve Program Collateral

 

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.

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“Is Mitral Stenosis The Same Thing As A Leaking Heart Valve?” Asks Vicki

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 Stenosis (A Narrow Heart Valve)
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.

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New 2012 Edition of My Book Available Now!

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!
Adam

USC Launches New Heart Valve Clinic Microsite!

By Adam Pick on July 3, 2012

I’m very happy to announce that Keck Hospital of USC just launched a ‘Heart Valve Clinic Microsite’ at HeartValveSurgery.com!

You will find USC’s microsite in the new valve clinics directory of our website. There, you can learn about USC’s approach to heart valve surgery, its surgeon team, including Dr. Vaughn Starnes, my surgeon, and our patient success stories. To see the microsite, click here.
 

New USC Heart Valve Clinic Microsite
USC Heart Valve Clinic Microsite

 

Thanks to Dr. Vaughn Starnes, Dr. Craig Baker, Julie Starnes, Sherry Whitney and the entire USC team for their continued support of the patients and caregivers within our community.

Keep on tickin!
Adam

“Happy 4th of July!” From Robyn, Ethan & Me

By Adam Pick on July 3, 2012

To all of our patients and caregivers from the USA… Happy 4th of July!!!

 

Fourth Of July Picture Of Mom & Son
Robyn (my wife) & Ethan (my son)

 

Robyn, Ethan & I hope you enjoy all the special elements of this holiday including barbecues, hot dogs, family get togethers, hamburgers, cole slaw, pool parties, corn, vacations, apple pie, parades, s’mores, fireworks and, most importantly, freedom.

Keep on tickin!
Adam

Guest Blog: Deb Offers A Spouse’s Perspective On Heart Valve Surgery

By Adam Pick on June 29, 2012

In addition to talking with patients, I’m often afforded the privilege of speaking with their caregivers. Over the past several months, I’ve been trading emails and chatting on the phone with Deb. Her husband, Fred, was recently diagnosed with a severely leaking mitral valve.

 

Deb & Fred - Husband And Wife After Heart Surgery
Deb & Fred (Mitral Valve Repair Patient)

 

The great news is that Fred’s surgery went very well. In fact, he’s already back on the golf course.

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