By Adam Pick on January 4, 2012
During my research for my book and this website, I have been fortunate to meet several incredible surgeons. Dr. Marc Gillinov is one such surgeon.
I first heard the name “Dr. Marc Gillinov” from his former patients. One after the other, my inbox filled up with glowing testimonials for Dr. Gillinov. His patients used words like friendly, excellent, caring and outstanding to describe the Judith Dion Pyle Chair in Heart Valve Research at The Cleveland Clinic.
By Adam Pick on December 28, 2011
During the past twelve months, this global community of patients and caregivers actively discussed many topics that have impacted our heart valve surgery experiences. As the year winds down, I thought it might be helpful to review all of these posts and highlight the top 10 stories that garnered the most attention during 2011.
So, without further ado, here are your “Top 10 Heart Valve Surgery Blogs of 2011”:
10. Much of our ongoing discussions focus on the proper management of patient expectations before, during and after surgery. To to help Denise prepare for her mitral valve repair surgery, we answered her question, “Do All Patients Get A Cardiac Catheterization Prior To Heart Valve Surgery?”. With over 25 comments from our community, this post was very helpful to Denise and many other patients preparing for surgery.
9. An interesting question from Alice about the recovery from heart valve surgery also generated a significant amount of traffic. In “What Are Those BIG Heart Shape Pillows Used For?”, Dr. Eric Roselli offered some clinical insights about these humongous, red pillows given to patients after surgery.
By Adam Pick on December 21, 2011
Interestingly… The importance of today’s date escaped me until a few minutes ago.
That is when I saw “December 21” on my calendar. I then eased my shoulders, took a deep breath and smiled. So you know, six years ago, at this exact moment, my heart valve surgery had just begun.
By Adam Pick on December 20, 2011
Like many of you, I’m fascinated by the possibilities of medical technology.
Specific to heart valve treatment, I continue to talk with many patients, caregivers, physicians and industry experts about catheter-based technologies for heart valve repair and heart valve replacement. Recently, the frequency of those conversations has increased. So, to make sure you are aware of the latest news about transcatheter valve devices, here are some interesting updates.
- St. Jude Medical announced the first implant of the Portico aortic valve implant via catheter in its European clinical trial. This trial will support St. Jude’s effort to win CE Mark approval for commercial use in Europe. The trial is specifically designed for patients with severe aortic stenosis (narrow heart valve) who are considered too high risk for traditional open heart valve replacement through the sternum or ribs.
Portico Aortic Valve Replacement (St. Jude Medical)
By Adam Pick on December 20, 2011
As the year winds down, I wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very happy holidays!
I also wanted to thank you for your ongoing participation in this unique community. This has been an incredible year for this project. So you know, this website had over one million visits during 2011. Needless to say, that is a clear testament to the empowering ways in which we continue to help each other through the experience of heart valve surgery.
On behalf of Robyn, my wife, and Ethan, my son, “Happy Holidays!” and “Happy New Year!”
Keep on tickin’ in 2012!
By Adam Pick on December 15, 2011
Receiving updates from former patients is a great way to start the day. That said, I just heard from Sylvia Woolworth. You might recall that Sylvia, 76, had aortic valve replacement two years ago. (To learn more about aortic valve replacement, click here.)
As you can read in her last update, Sylvia took several steps to physically and mentally prepare for her heart valve surgery. Recently, I learned that Sylvia, who lives in New Jersey, has a fun tradition during the winter holidays… Sylvia takes on the fun role of playing “Mrs. Claus” at holiday events.
Sylvia “Mrs. Claus” Woolworth
By Adam Pick on December 14, 2011
I just spent some time at Heart Valve Journals, our social network for patients and caregivers going through heart valve surgery.
As Sarah wrote in her journal this morning, “Shortly I’ll leave for the hospital. Thanks for so many for the encouraging words on the blog and in cards, on the phone and in person.”
By Adam Pick on December 12, 2011
As a double heart valve surgery patient, I found Janelle’s recent question very interesting.
She wrote, “Hi Adam – Almost everything I read on the internet deals with a singular leaking heart valve. At age 64, I was just diagnosed with three valves that are leaking: the aortic valve, the mitral valve and tricuspid valve. I have shortness of breath and I am also lightheaded at times. I am curious to know, what are the chances that someone with three leaking valves can still have a healthy heart?”
To get an expert opinion for Janelle, I recently discussed this topic with Doctor Patrick McCarthy, the Chief of Cardiac Surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Here are the highlights from our discussion.
“Is It Possible To Have A Bicuspid Aortic Valve Repaired With A Dilated Aorta?” With Dr. S. Chris Malaisrie
By Adam Pick on December 7, 2011
I recently received a great question about bicuspid aortic valve repair. The patient wrote to me, “Adam – I have a bicuspid aortic valve and a dilated aorta. I think I need an aortic valve replacement and an aortic root replacement. I’m curious. Is it possible to get a bicuspid aortic valve repair instead of having it replaced?”
During my recent tour of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, I was fortunate to ask this exact question to Dr. S. Chris Malaisrie, a cardiac surgeon who specializes in aortic valve treatment. Here are the highlights of our discussion. (For those patients and caregivers in our community who are hearing impaired, I have provided a written transcript below.)
By Adam Pick on December 7, 2011
Sorry for the last minute notice, but tomorrow (Thursday) at 12pm (EST), The Cleveland Clinic will host a special web chat titled, “Stress, Depression & Heart Disease”. Dr. Leo Pozuelo, who is the associate director of the Bakken Heart Brain Institute, will moderate this very interesting session.
As I personally experienced issues with cardiac depression following surgery, I encourage all patients to attend this event. So you know, my research suggests that up to 32% of patients can experience depression after heart valve surgery. To learn more about cardiac depression, click here.
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on November 28, 2011
Recently, Jim sent me a great question that reads, “Adam – I’m 65 and diagnosed with moderate aortic valve stenosis. It seems there are a couple of different types of minimally invasive surgery. Can you help me understand that better?” (To learn more about aortic stenosis, click here.)
I was very fortunate to ask this exact question to Dr. Marc Gillinov, a leading heart valve surgeon from the Cleveland Clinic, at the Heart Valve Summit. The highlights of our discussion are provided in this video. (For the patients and caregivers of our community who are hearing impaired, I have provided a written transcript below.)
Thanks to Jim for his question and a special thanks to Dr. Marc Gillinov for his continued support of this website. As you may know, Dr. Gillinov has performed successful surgery on many patients in our community including Robin Williams (the actor and comedian), Don Spencer, Fran Zilko, Sandy Gilbert and Anita Devine.
Heart Valve Summit Video #8: “Is There Anything I Can Do To Ensure My Heart Valve Repair Will Last Forever?” asks Emilyrae
By Adam Pick on November 25, 2011
Recently, I received a great question from Emilyrae. She wrote, “Adam – I am a healthy person. I’m 68-years old and I just had a successful mitral valve repair. I’m curious to know, is there anything I can do to ensure that this repair will last the rest of my life?”
While at the Heart Valve Summit, I was fortunate to discuss Emilyrae’s question with Dr. Salenger, the Director of Valve Surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, New York. The video below contains the highlights of our discussion. (For the members of our community who are hearing impaired, I have provided a written transcript of this video below.)
Thanks to Emilyrae for her question and a special thanks to Dr. Rawn Salenger for taking the time to educate our community about this very important post-operative topic.
Heart Valve Summit Video #7: “Are All Patients Candidates For Robotic Mitral Valve Repair?” Asks Evan
By Adam Pick on November 22, 2011
A few days before the Heart Valve Summit, Evan sent me a great question that reads, “Adam – Specific to mitral valve repair with a robot… Are all patients candidates for this surgical technique?”
To provide Evan an expert opinion, I discussed this topic with Dr. Harold Roberts, MD, an experienced heart valve surgeon from WVU Medicine in West Virginia. Here are the highlights from our discussion. (A transcript of this interview is provided below for those patients and caregivers in our community who are hearing impaired.)
Thanks to Evan for his great question and a special thanks to Dr. Harold Roberts for sharing his clinical expertise with our community. To learn more about Dr. Roberts and his practice, please click here.
By Adam Pick on November 22, 2011
If you didn’t know… Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite holiday.
How can you go wrong with comfort food, family, friends and the overwhelming reminder of thankfulness? On that note, I want to extend a tremendous “Thank you!” to all members of this growing community of patients, caregivers, surgeons, cardiologists, nurses, cardiac centers and medical device manufacturers.
Together, we are empowering each other in a way that I never imagined when this project started five years ago. I am continuously touched, moved and inspired by your words, your stories, your encouragement and your ongoing pursuit of healthy hearts.
May you have a very happy and a very safe Thanksgiving!
Special Announcement: Don’t Miss “Ask The Surgeon” Web Chat With Dr. Bruce Lytle Of The Cleveland Clinic
By Adam Pick on November 21, 2011
I just learned some great news! Dr. Bruce Lytle, Chairman of the Cleveland Clinic Heart Institute, will be hosting a special, live web chat titled “Ask The Heart Surgeon” this Wednesday at 12 pm (EST). Needless to say, this is an exciting opportunity for patients and caregivers to gain direct access to one of the leading heart valve surgeons.
So you know… Dr. Bruce Lytle is Chairman of the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute at the Cleveland Clinic and a staff cardiac surgeon in the Cleveland Clinic Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. He is board-certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. To learn more about Dr. Lytle, click here.
Dr. Lytle has a special interest in coronary artery disease, arterial bypass grafting, valvular heart diseases, valve surgery, re-operations and diseases of the thoracic aorta. Thanks to Betsy for letting our patient and caregiver community know about this fantastic event!
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on November 17, 2011
Prior to the Heart Valve Summit, Wanda sent me two great questions. She wrote, “Adam – What is the oldest person that a surgeon has operated on? Is it common for the elderly to have heart valve surgery? Thanks! Wanda”
As I receive this question often — from patients and caregivers — I wanted to provide Wanda an expert opinion. For that reason, I met with Dr. Steven Bolling, heart surgeon and Director of The Mitral Valve Clinic at the University of Michigan. Here are the highlights from our discussion.
By Adam Pick on November 17, 2011
In case you missed it… Some very interesting reports came out about the SAPIEN, a non-invasive aortic valve replacement for patients with aortic stenosis that just received FDA approval for inoperable patients, at the recent Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics conference in San Francisco.
By Adam Pick on November 13, 2011
Emotions are powerful. They surface quickly. They alter biochemistry. They transform seconds into memorable moments.
Recently, several of my emotions — thankfulness, appreciation, humility, indebtedness — appeared during a special chat with Doctor Vaughn Starnes, my surgeon. What began as a discussion about pediatric mitral valve repair, quickly turned into an emotional moment as I stood next to the man who changed my life.
By Adam Pick on November 11, 2011
Jake sent me a great question relating to pain, minimally invasive surgical approaches and recovery. He writes, “Adam — I hear a lot about minimally invasive procedures being much better for pain and recovery. Is that true? Thanks, Jake”
During the Heart Valve Summit, I was very fortunate to ask Jake’s question to Dr. Kevin Accola, a leading cardiac surgeon who has performed over 9,000 cardiac procedures including 2,400 heart valve operations. Here are the highlights from our discussion:
Thanks to Jake for his question and a special thanks to Dr. Kevin Accola for taking the time to meet with us and share his clinical expertise. As you may know, Dr. Accola has performed successful surgery on many members of our community including:
Valve Clinic Tour: Dr. Patrick McCarthy Returns Home To Lead The Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute At Northwestern Memorial Hospital
By Adam Pick on November 9, 2011
In 2004, one of the leading heart valve surgeons came home.
In the midst of his 30-year career, which includes time at Stanford University, The Mayo Clinic and The Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Patrick M. McCarthy returned to Chicago, the city of his birth, to lead the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Given Dr. McCarthy’s clinical achievements, research, cardiac inventions, publications and patient recommendations, I was thrilled to receive an invitation to tour Northwestern prior to the Heart Valve Summit.
Dr. Patrick McCarthy – Chief, Division of Cardiac Surgery
Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, Northwestern Memorial Hospital
During the tour, which included several meetings with medical and administrative teams, I quickly came to understand four reasons why so many patients within our community are enthusiastic about this program – which is currently ranked by US News and World Report at:
- No. 16 for cardiovascular care across the nation; and
- No. 1 for cardiovascular care in the Chicago-metro area.