By Adam Pick on September 14, 2011
Lately, there have been a lot of patient comments and questions posted about pregnancy and heart valve disease. To extend this discussion, I wanted to share with you a fantastic email I just received from Sara Bloomfield. Sara writes to me:
Sara & Matt Bloomfield (Chicago, Illinois)
I have a bicuspid aortic valve, dilated aortic root, and coarctation of the descending aorta. Like many other women with valve conditions that are hoping to have children, pregnancy has been an ongoing topic with my cardiologist throughout my life. The conversation was left open after each visit as it would depend on the state of my heart at the time I was ready to have a baby. After getting married last year, my husband and I were ready to address this. Based on the function of my valve and root, I am considered to be in the “grey zone” for pregnancy.
By Adam Pick on September 6, 2011
Jenny just sent me a very interesting question about surgical approaches for heart valve repair. She writes, “Dear Adam – I was just diagnosed with severe mitral regurgitation. I have regular degenerative mitral valve prolapse. An annuloplasty valve ring has been recommended as well. I’m thinking of having a mini-sternotomy and wondering what the risks are compared to a full sternotomy? Are there any other approaches that might be advantageous for me? Thanks, Jenny”
Mini-Sternotomy For Heart Valve Surgery
To provide Jenny with an expert opinion, I contacted Dr. Harold Roberts, a leading heart valve surgeon, from WVU Medicine in West Virginia.
So you know, during his 25+ year career, Dr. Roberts has performed over 3,500 heart valve procedures. Here is Dr. Roberts’ response to Jenny’s question:
By Adam Pick on August 29, 2011
A few months ago, I received a phone call from Denise Ring, a patient suffering from severe mitral valve regurgitation. From the moment we spoke, I sensed Denise’s nerves, her anxiety and her fear given prior health challenges. Over the next few weeks, we corresponded by phone and by email leading right up to her surgery. (To learn more about mitral regurgitation, click here.)
Good news! Two weeks after surgery, I received an inspirational voice-mail from Denise. I have to admit, I did not recognize Denise’s voice. Her energy and her positive outlook in the message was overwhelming. As she exclaimed during the message, “I can’t believe it. Surgery went great. I’m starting to feel like the old me.”
Denise Ring – Mitral Valve Repair Patient
I would later receive this email from Denise:
Dear Adam —
I’m feeling fantastic! Dr. Accola performed a mitral valve repair for me only 12 short weeks ago. This amazing surgeon is a truly gifted man. He is not only highly skilled but also sincerely concerned about the well-being of his patients. I was actually caught off guard by his compassion and calm but confident demeanor.
By Adam Pick on August 29, 2011
As many of you know… I’m a technology enthusiast. In fact, I’m often referred to as a “tech geek” by my friends — always playing around with the latest gadgets and software.
Specific to heart valve treatment, my interest in medical technology is similarly high. Today, much of the tech-excitement is centered on transcatheter, sutureless and leaflet exchange technology. However, I’m still fascinated by the utility of robotic devices for procedures including mitral valve repair procedures. (To learn more about mitral valve repair surgery, click here.)
Da Vinci Surgical Robot
By Adam Pick on August 29, 2011
Thanks to all of you who continue to ask for the latest Ethan update!
As you can see, our little 2-year old, is getting ready for football season. Like his dad, Ethan is a Michigan Wolverine fan. He already has the “Go Blue!” fist pump ready for the opener next Saturday.
Ethan Pick Readies For Football Saturday
But, in all seriousness, Ethan is thriving. He’s talking non-stop and going through the early stages of… potty training! Robyn, my wife, and I are exhausted. However, we are having the time of our lives watching him grow up.
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on August 23, 2011
I just received a very interesting question from Jake about chest pain, sternum wires and heart valve surgery.
Jake writes to me, “Dear Adam – It’s been 2 years since my aortic valve replacement operation. While my heart is doing great, I still have a very sensitive incision. There are spots along my sternum that, if I press on, cause a shot of pain. My chest also hurts if I twist in odd ways. Is it possible that the sternum wires are causing this discomfort. If so, can I get them taken out? Is that a big procedure? Thanks! Jake”
By Adam Pick on August 7, 2011
It is one of the best moments of my day.
I click on an unopened email to find a touching patient success story. This inspirational note comes from Dr. Jeff Pirofsky who just celebrated his one-year anniversary from a mitral valve repair operation. Jeff writes to me:
Dr. Jeff Pirofsky – Mitral Valve Repair Patient
Dear Adam –
I just wanted to thank you for all the help that you gave me last year.
Special Research Update: “Is Your Surgeon Likely To Perform Mitral Valve Repair?” With Dr. Steven Bolling
By Adam Pick on July 27, 2011
Over the years, I’ve received several patient testimonials for Dr. Steven Bolling. While I had never met Dr. Bolling, I was fortunate to attend his lecture, “Mitral Valve Repair Predictability” at the Mitral Conclave. I found many elements of his presentation VERY important for patients facing heart valve surgery. That said, I was lucky to meet with Dr. Bolling to discuss his findings.
Thanks to Dr. Steven Bolling, heart surgeon, for taking the time to share his research with us. So you know, Dr. Bolling is the director of The Mitral Valve Center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. During his 27-year career, Dr. Bolling has performed over 8,000 cardiac operations — with over 2,500 procedures involving the mitral valve.
For the members of our community that are hearing impaired, I have provided a written transcript of this video interview with Dr. Bolling below.
By Adam Pick on July 26, 2011
Within our patient and caregiver community, there is great excitement about transcatheter aortic valve replacement technology. These non-invasive approaches for aortic stenosis treatment are often described with adjectives including revolutionary and transformational.
Edwards SAPIEN Heart Valve Replacement
I wanted to relay new information about the FDA approval process for one of these percutaneous devices, the SAPIEN aortic valve replacement by Edwards Lifesciences. This valve, which does not require an incision to the sternum or ribs for implant, received two favorable votes from an advisory panel of cardiologists which reviewed its most recent clinical trial:
Facing Congestive Heart Failure, Mildred Burns, 83, Considers Heart Valve Replacement Surgery ‘The Best Decision Ever Made’
By Adam Pick on July 16, 2011
I just received an insightful email from Mildred Burns. At 83, Mildred was facing congestive heart failure and desperately needed an aortic valve replacement. I thought you might appreciate reading these encouraging words from Mildred about fear, a second heart surgery and quality of life…
Mildred Burns, 83, with Dr. Junaid Khan
Surgeon Spotlight: After 7,000 Surgeries, Dr. Kevin Accola’s Heart Valve Specialty Is Praised By Patients
By Adam Pick on July 12, 2011
It’s an honor to shine our surgeon spotlight on Dr. Kevin Accola, a leading heart valve surgeon who practices at the Florida Hospital Cardiovascular Institute.
I first met Dr. Accola in 2008. I called Dr. Accola after several of his patients emailed me their fantastic success stories. During our chat, I quickly learned that Dr. Accola is a super nice guy and a very accomplished surgeon. As you can read on Dr. Accola’s surgeon profile, he has performed over 7,400 cardiac procedures and over 2,400 heart valve operations. Mitral valve repair is one of Dr. Accola’s specialties.
Over the years, I have become very familiar with many of Dr. Accola’s patients including Donna Wilson, Scott Niemen, Misti Blue and Denise Ring. Dr. Accola’s patients often use words like “warm”, “calm”, “humble”, “caring” and “confident” to describe his personality.
For example, Duane Hunt, a recent mitral valve repair patient, recently shared with me…
By Adam Pick on July 6, 2011
I am consistently inspired by the patients and caregivers that make-up this community.
For example… I just learned that the Rogers family, from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, recently held a fundraiser to raise awareness for Heart Valve Journals, our social network, and our charitable efforts. As you might know, Michael Rogers, 18, underwent pulmonary heart valve replacement surgery on June 2, 2011.
In a journal posted yesterday, Linda Rogers, Michael’s mother, writes, “It seems like just yesterday I began this Journal so that we could keep our dear family and friends updated on Michael’s progress through the surgery and recovery period. It’s been 35 days since Michael’s surgery and we’re so thankful and blessed that he is doing great!”
“Lemon-Aid” At The Rogers 4th of July Golf Cart Parade
As for their charitable support of HeartValveJournals.com, Linda writes:
By Adam Pick on July 5, 2011
If you are searching for answers to questions about heart valve disease, I encourage you to attend, “Heart Valve Disease”, a live interactive chat with Dr. Thomas and Dr. Sabik from the Cleveland Clinic.
During this unique, one-hour event several topics specific to valvular disorders, including aortic stenosis and mitral regurgitation, will be discussed. Here is a quick summary of the event along with registration instructions.
By Adam Pick on July 5, 2011
I received a great email from Donny about atrial fibrillation and heart valve surgery. Donny asked me, “Adam – I’ve suffered from a-fib longer than I can remember. Now, I need mitral valve surgery due to mitral regurgitation. My heart is already dilated. Am I an anomaly or this common?”
Luckily, I was able to ask Donny’s question directly to Dr. Patrick McCarthy, the chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. As Dr. McCarthy has performed over 4,000 heart valve procedures and maintains a clinical focus on atrial fibrillation, I thought you might like to hear Dr. McCarthy’s response…
By Adam Pick on June 29, 2011
I just visited Heart Valve Journals, our interactive community where patients meet and learn from each other. While clicking through many of these amazing journals, guestbooks and photo sections, I noticed that during the next 24 hours Tammy, Jeff & Kent will be going in for heart valve surgery.
Jeff Roemer needs a new aortic valve. Tammy Golchert is undergoing mitral valve repair. And, Kent Kersey needs an aortic valve replacement and root reconstruction. If you like, feel free to visit their Heart Valve Journals by clicking their names above.
My thoughts and prayers are with Tammy, Jeff and Kent.
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on June 28, 2011
I’m not sure the Human Genome Project detected it, but I think we all maintain a unique gene that enables us to wish. Some people wish for peace. Some people wish for wealth. Most people, in this community, wish for healthy hearts.
Interestingly, Pat Studebaker had a lifelong wish to witness a heart surgery. Thanks to the Never Too Late organization and Doctor Marc Gerdisch, MD, Pat got her wish last week.
Dr. Marc Gerdisch Explains Heart Valve Surgery To Pat Studebaker
By Adam Pick on June 25, 2011
When evaluating surgical options for a heart valve replacement procedure, a common patient concern is selecting the “right” mechanical or tissue valve. Specific to this topic, Jenny recently wrote to me, “Hi Adam – I’m 38 years old and need aortic valve replacement surgery. The durability of a mechanical valve is attractive but it seems like so many people, of all ages, are getting tissue valves. Is that a trend that I should be paying attention to?”
I was very fortunate to ask Dr. Richard Shemin, cardiac surgeon and the Professor and Chairman of Cardiothoracic Surgery at UCLA Medical Center, this exact question. Here are the highlights from our discussion.
Thanks to Jenny for her question and a special thanks to Dr. Shemin for taking the time to discuss this important question with our community.
For those patients who are hearing impaired, I have provided a written, video transcript of my discussion with Dr. Shemin below.
By Adam Pick on June 24, 2011
Although the MitraClip was recently recalled, one of our favorite patient success stories continues to be Kato Pomer from Los Angeles. As you might recall, Kato underwent a MitraClip procedure two years ago following a quick onset of severe mitral regurgitation.
Kato Pomer, 94, Mitral Valve Repair Patient
Yesterday, I learned that Kato just celebrated her 94th birthday. That said, I wanted to wish Kato a very, very, very happy birthday!
Keep on tickin’ Kato!
By Adam Pick on June 21, 2011
Recently, I received a great question from Donald, a 64-year old patient, who suffers from mitral valve regurgitation. While evaluating his surgical options, Donald asked me, “Adam – My research suggests that mitral valve repair surgery is preferred to mitral valve replacement… Why is that?”
I was very fortunate to discuss Donald’s question with Dr. David H. Adams, a leading heart valve surgeon who specializes in mitral valve reconstruction, at the Mitral Conclave in New York City.
Thanks to Donald for his question and a special thanks to Dr. David Adams for his ongoing support of our community. To learn more about Dr. Adams, who is the Chairman of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital, please click here.
If you are hearing impaired, I have provided a transcript of this video interview below.
By Adam Pick on June 13, 2011
When diagnosed with a life threatening illness, such as severe heart valve disease, patients often confront uncomfortable emotions. Personally, I remember feelings of fear, anxiety and confusion. How me manage those emotions is often a test of our character, our courage, our self and our love for life.
One patient who just passed this test with flying colors is… Matt Fountain from Sarasota, Florida.
I first learned of Matt’s story six weeks ago. In an email, Matt told me that he was scheduled for an aortic valve replacement and an aortic root replacement surgery due to severe aortic stenosis and an aneurysm. (To learn more about stenosis, click here.)