By Adam Pick on March 14, 2012
Sorry for the late notice… But, here is a great opportunity to learn more about heart valve disease and treatment. On Thursday, Dr. Lars Svensson and Dr. Murat Tuzcu, from the Cleveland Clinic, will hold a live webchat titled, “Valve Disease, Diagnosis, Interventions and Surgery”.
Keep on tickin!
With A “Top 10 Heart Song List” and Jeff Shebovsky By His Side, Jim Readies For His 2nd Mitral Valve Repair
By Adam Pick on March 12, 2012
There is not a day that goes by in which I am not inspired by you – the patients and caregivers of this community.
My “daily dose” of inspiration for Monday comes from Jim Smith, a mitral valve repair patient from Athens, Georgia. So you know, Jim will have his second mitral valve surgery on Tuesday to correct his leaky heart valve. The surgery will be performed by Doctor David Adams, MD, a leading mitral valve specialist from Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
Jim has inspired me for two reasons. First, Jim is using Heart Valve Journals in a way I never imagined. Not only is Jim connecting with patients online. But, he is actually meeting them in person… in the hospital! Yes, you read that right!
Jim Smith with Jeff Shebovsky at
Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City
Above, you will see Jim with Jeff Shebovsky, who just underwent surgery at Mount Sinai for a bicuspid aortic valve. Seeing the smiling faces of these two guys actually brought tears to the top of my eyelids. I never, ever, ever imagined that this little website would evolve to a point where patients could enter a hospital knowing that their “online buddies” would be there… waiting for them… encouraging them… smiling with them in pictures that are immediately posted for the world to see.
Secondly, Jim has inspired me because of his “Top 10 Heart Song List”. So you know, I am a music fanatic. I love all types of music – from classical to jazz to reggae to country to good ole’ rock. That said, I keenly watched Jim’s journal as he posted songs that alluded to the wonder and power of the human heart.
By Adam Pick on March 9, 2012
As a follow-up to our last conversation about aortic valve replacement re-operations, Brian just sent me an interesting question about replacement devices that require leaflet repair.
Brian writes, “Hi Adam – My mitral valve was replaced 9 years ago. Unfortunately, after experiencing some symptoms, an echo showed that I need it fixed again due to a mitral leaflet issue. I’m curious to know if the surgeon will repair the leaflet or do they throw out the old valve and just give me a new one?”
I wanted to provide Brian an expert opinion, so I contacted Dr. Marc Gerdisch, the Chief of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at St. Francis Heart Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.
By Adam Pick on March 8, 2012
Great news everybody!
I just learned that Jeff Shebovsky, from Windermere, Florida, had a successful Ross Procedure yesterday. The double heart valve surgery was performed by Doctor Paul Stelzer at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. Although Jeff was asymptomatic, a bicuspid aortic valve resulted in severe aortic stenosis.
Jeff, Carol, Brooke, Erica & Jason
As his wife, Carol, wrote in his journal:
Jeff is doing absolutely fantastic today. The doctors are amazed at how well he is doing. One doctor came over to ask him if he is ready to go into surgery. All his numbers including blood pressure, blood supply, oxygen, etc. are like he never had surgery. He’s talking a lot, eating ice chips, had a popsicle. They are planning to move him into a regular room real soon, within the next couple of hours….Carol
I want to thank Jeff for being so active within our community. If you have spent any time at Heart Valve Journals lately, you would have definitely seen how positive, caring and supportive Jeff has been to the other patients at this website.
By Adam Pick on March 6, 2012
I just received an interesting question from Jon about the durability of heart valve replacement devices. He writes, “Adam – I know that the bulk of your patient questions are in regard to upcoming surgeries. But, for those of us who have already had surgeries — like myself who had aortic valve replacement two years ago and I’m 60 years old now — what does my future look like? I was told that my bovine replacement would last 10, 15 or even 20 years. Will my future replacement be identical to the same surgery? Or, will I be looking at something else? Thanks, Jon”
Bovine Aortic Valve Replacement (Edwards Lifesciences)
While I have my thoughts on this topic, I wanted to provide Jon an expert opinion.
By Adam Pick on March 3, 2012
In case you missed it, Dr. Marc Gillinov and Dr. Steven Nissen were just on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS. It’s a great interview that addresses several issues specific to cardiac disease including prevention, lifestyle choices, healthcare reform, diet, exercise, medical advances, workplace incentives, myths and treatment.
If you are interested to learn more about Dr. Gillinov’s and Dr. Nissen’s research, they recently published Heart 411, a fascinating book about heart disease and prevention.
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on March 2, 2012
When starting a post like this, I don’t really know what to say… Or, how to say it.
That said, I am very sad and sorry to inform our community that Kelly Nugent passed away on Wednesday. As Katrina, her cousin, shared with me, “Kelly fought a long, hard fight after experiencing multiple, post-operative complications including excessive bleeding and infection. Following her heart surgery, several additional surgeries were needed to address the bleeding, the infection, and remove her gall bladder — which may have been the source of the infection. But, no one is really sure.”
This was the second major health issue for Kelly during her life. Twenty-five years ago, Kelly survived Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
Needless to say, my thoughts and prayers are with Emma, Kelly’s mom, and her entire family.
By Adam Pick on February 26, 2012
Amazing!!! I just learned that our website was in the New York Daily News earlier this week!!!
In an insightful article titled, “Mitral Valve Leakage Can Lead To Heart Failure If Left Untreated”, Dr. Anelechi Anyanwu is interviewed about a very common form of heart valve disease known as mitral regurgitation, or a leaky heart valve. The article addresses several facets of leaking heart valves — anatomical issues, potential risks and treatment options.
Towards the end of the article, Dr. Anyanwu references websites that offer reliable information for patients and caregivers to consider. To my surprise, HeartValveSurgery.com is one of those resources! 🙂
Woo-Whoo! Thanks so much to Dr. Anelechi Anyanwu for his recommendation.
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on February 24, 2012
After one of the most active spotlights in Heart Valve Journals’ history, Mitch Friedman has moved on to healthy, heart pumping pastures. 🙂
In his place, I’m thrilled to announce that Chris Dixon from Houston, Texas has taken the reins of our “Patient Spotlight”. Chris, who was born with a bicuspid aortic valve, was recently diagnosed with aortic stenosis and aortic regurgitation.
To replace his aortic valve, Chris has selected the Ross Procedure to be performed by the Dr. Paul Stelzer at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.
By Adam Pick on February 22, 2012
In connection with yesterday’s post, I received many interesting questions about the SAPIEN aortic valve replacement. For example, Bernard asked about the possibility of a “valve-in-valve” procedure. In his email, Bernard wrote, “My surgeon used a bovine tissue valve to replace my diseased aortic valve. If my new valve requires replacement in the future, can the SAPIEN be used?”
To ensure that Bernard received an appropriate answer to his question, I contacted Dr. Eric Roselli, a leading cardiac surgeon from the Cleveland Clinic.
By Adam Pick on February 21, 2012
I just received an interesting question from Anita about the SAPIEN heart valve replacement.
Anita wrote to me, “Hi Adam, My dad is not doing very well. At 86, he’s been diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis. We understand that he might be a candidate for the SAPIEN valve. My dad is a big guy. I’m curious to know if the valve can expand to fit all valve sizes. Or, are there limitations given the size of the catheter? By the way, what is the normal size of an aortic valve?”
Edwards SAPIEN Aortic Valve Replacement
I wanted to provide Anita an expert opinion so I contacted Dr. Craig Smith, the principal investigator for the SAPIEN clinical trials.
By Adam Pick on February 10, 2012
I just learned that Kelly Nugent, who had aortic and mitral valve surgery on February 3rd, experienced complications and remains in critical condition. I do not know all the details yet. However, I do know that Kelly has been through A LOT and needs our support.
While there is much debate, and even studies, about the power of prayer… I’m a believer. That said, I’m sending Kelly healthy, heart-pumping thoughts right now. I know that Linda, Mitch, Anne, Deb, Jane and Sheila – her Heart Valve Journals buddies – are probably doing the same. If you could offer Kelly a prayer, I imagine Kelly and her family would greatly appreciate it.
Keep on tickin’ Kelly!
By Adam Pick on February 8, 2012
I just received a great question from Julie about the progression of mitral regurgitation.
Julie writes, “Hi Adam – At 52, I was recently diagnosed with moderate regurgitation in my mitral valve. Even though I don’t have symptoms, I was diagnosed with a prolapse that I never even knew about until last week. Do you know how quickly the regurg can progress from moderate to severe? Is it a year? 5 years? 10 years? Thanks, Julie”
To provide Julie an expert opinion about mitral regurgitation progression, I reached out to Dr. Craig Smith, the Chairman of Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital / Columbia University Medical Center. During his career, Dr. Smith has performed over 3,500 cardiac procedures — including more than 2,000 heart valve repair and heart valve replacement operation.
Nancy, Jeff and Mitch Inspire Each Other With A “Thumbs Up” Before, During & After Heart Valve Surgery!
By Adam Pick on February 7, 2012
When I created Heart Valve Journals, I didn’t know if anyone would actually use it. Now, a few years later, I am amazed at how patients and caregivers are using this social network to support each other through heart valve surgery.
Case in point… I just learned that Nancy Friedman — who is from St. Louis, Missouri — and Jeff Shebovksy — who is from Windermere, Florida — recently met in Orlando, Florida after seeing each other online at Heart Valve Journals. Nancy and Jeff are preparing for aortic valve replacement surgery.
Nancy Friedman & Jeff Shebovsky
Here’s the fun part… Take a guess what Nancy and Jeff did when they met?
As shown in the picture above, they offered Mitch Friedman, who is just getting out of the ICU, an encouraging “Thumbs Up!” picture. Mitch had aortic valve replacement last week in New York. Nancy, Jeff and Mitch all met on Heart Valve Journals.
Now… Take a guess how Mitch responded to Nancy and Jeff?
By Adam Pick on February 7, 2012
I just learned that Doctor Marc Gillinov, MD, staff surgeon at The Cleveland Clinic and author of Heart 411, will be hosting a complimentary web chat this Friday at 12pm (EST). During this 60-minute session, you can ask Dr. Gillinov your questions about heart valve disease, heart valve repair and heart valve replacement surgery.
If you are preparing or recovering from heart valve surgery, I encourage you to participate in this event. In the past, Dr. Gillinov’s web chats have received glowing reviews from our patient and caregiver community.
Keep on tickin!
Surgeon Spotlight: Dr. Alfredo Trento’s Innovative Approach To Cardiac Care Leads Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
By Adam Pick on February 6, 2012
Each time I meet a cardiac surgeon with a “Chief”, “Chairman” or “Director” in front of their name, I feel extraordinarily humble. I know those titles are not easy to attain. I know these physicians have spent their entire lives learning, researching and teaching about cardiac care. Lastly, I know these doctors have spent thousands of hours in the operating room pursuing surgical perfection, always innovating to improve patient outcomes.
For example… Consider the career of Dr. Alfredo Trento, the Chairman of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. During his 30-year career, Dr. Trento has performed over 7,500 cardiac procedures of which 4,000 operations included valvular treatment.
Dr. Alfredo Trento – Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
As a result of his clinical experience and innovative approach to cardiac care, Doctor Trento has published over 150 research papers and has been featured in over 300 scientific journals. To better understand the professional and personal story of Dr. Trento, I encourage to watch this fascinating video with Florence Henderson, one of Dr. Trento’s heart valve surgery patients.
By Adam Pick on February 4, 2012
Doug sent me a great question about his options for mitral valve repair surgery. In his email, Doug wrote, “I have severe mitral regurgitation and I need surgery. I’m considering two surgeons… One surgeon uses the robot and the other surgeon does not. Which is a better choice for me?”
To provide Doug an expert opinion, I met with Dr. Steven Bolling, the Director of the Mitral Valve Program at the University of Michigan. During our discussion, Dr. Bolling, who has performed over 3,800 mitral valve operations, offered great insight and research for Doug to consider. Here are the video highlights from our chat.
By Adam Pick on February 3, 2012
Since launching this blog 5 years ago, I have only recommended one book about cardiac care.
Today, I am thrilled to increase my book recommendations by 100% with an emphatic endorsement of “Heart 411” by Dr. Marc Gillinov and Dr. Steven Nissen. This 550-page guide to heart health is packed with helpful facts, practical guidance and patient stories that will definitely help the 82 million Americans that are diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.
What I enjoyed most about the book was the pace at which Dr. Marc Gillinov and Dr. Steven Nissen intertwined research, evidence and data along with their own clinical experiences that stretch across 50 years of medical practice and 10,000 patients. To learn more about Dr. Gillinov, click here.
By Adam Pick on February 2, 2012
Over the past few months, many patients and caregivers in our community have been fortunate to meet Kelly Nugent and Mitch Friedman at Heart Valve Journals, our social network.
As Kelly and Mitch prepared for heart valve surgery due to aortic valve regurgitation and mitral valve regurgitation, they openly shared their experiences, thoughts, feelings and emotions about their pursuit of healthy hearts.
By Adam Pick on February 1, 2012
Earlier this week, the 48th annual Society of Thoracic Surgeons Meeting (STS) was held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. During the meeting, cardiac surgeons from around the world gather to discuss the latest strategies for optimal cardiac treatment — including heart valve repair and heart valve replacement procedures.
As our patient and caregiver community is fascinated by medical advances impacting heart valve surgery, I thought you might be interested to learn about a new study released at STS specific to the SAPIEN transcatheter aortic valve replacement device. The SAPIEN, which is manufactured by Edwards Lifesciences, is positioned in the heart using a minimally invasive catheter.
Here are the most recent findings about the SAPIEN’s clinical performance in 822 “inoperable patients” who suffered from severe aortic valve stenosis and received this aortic valve replacement device transapically — through the ribs: