Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 33

Trent Viavattene Readies To Remedy Mitral Regurgitation

By Adam Pick on June 15, 2012

I wanted to shine our “Heart Valve Journals Spotlight” on Trent Viavattene, a mitral regurgitation patient from Plano, Texas.

So you know, Trent is preparing for mitral valve surgery to be performed next Monday by Dr. William Ryan. I could ramble on about Trent, his wife (Amanda) and his two boys (Riley and Jake). Instead, I’d encourage you to visit Trent’s journal and, perhaps, leave him an encouraging note at his guestbook.


Trent - Patient With Mitral Regurgitation In Texas
Trent, Riley & Jake


Personally, I was inspired to learn that Trent recently met up with Thomas Hunt, another patient from Texas, who just had mitral valve surgery with Dr. Gillinov at the Cleveland Clinic.

Continue reading this post »

Ethan Update: Mickey, Pirates & Buzz Lightyear

By Adam Pick on June 15, 2012

Thanks to everybody for your ongoing inquiries about Ethan, our 3-year old son.

Since the last update, Ethan has developed a passion for the performing arts. Actually, it’s less of a passion and more of a rampant addiction. It started with him imitating, role-playing and singing the songs from Yo Gabba Gabba. Then, it progressed to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.


Ethan as Mickey Mouse


After the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse ran its course, Jake and the Neverland Pirates became his favorite “show” to perform. After Jake, it was Handy Manny, then the Muppets and… the list goes on.

Continue reading this post »

“How Long Is My Heart Iced & Stopped During Surgery?” Asks Steve

By Adam Pick on June 8, 2012

I just received an interesting email from Steve about the time in which the heart is iced and stopped during heart valve replacement and heart valve repair surgery.

In his email, Steve writes, “Hi Adam – I am having mitral valve repair surgery next month. One glaring question… I’ve read that when the heart is stopped it is “iced” and therefore can last 2-4 hours without tissue damage.  However, a whole bunch of these surgeries take between 4-7 hours, sometimes more. How do we reconcile the discrepancy? Thank you, Steve”


Ice Chips On Heart During Cardiac Surgery
Ice Chips On Heart During Cooling Process


Steve raises a great question. For that reason, I contacted Dr. Marc Gillinov to get a great answer. If you were unaware, Dr. Gillinov is a staff surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, co-author of Heart 411 and a super nice guy.

Continue reading this post »

Dr. Chitwood Named ‘Featured Surgeon’ At

By Adam Pick on June 8, 2012

Hi everybody,

I wanted to take a quick moment to share that Dr. Randolph Chitwood, Director of the East Carolina Heart Institute, has been named our current ‘Featured Heart Valve Surgeon’.  In addition to being a pioneer and innovator in the field of cardiac surgery, Dr. Chitwood has been an incredible supporter of the patients and caregivers within our community — including Richard, Nick, Rodney and Amy.


Dr. Randolph Chitwood, Jr., East Carolina Heart Institute


To help you learn more about Dr. Chitwood and his unique approach to cardiac care, here are two interesting links:

Lastly, if you would like to see Dr. Chitwood’s surgeon profile, video and patient testimonials, please click here.

Keep on tickin’ Dr. Chitwood!

“Should My 14-Year Old Daughter Get A Valve Repair Or Valve Replacement?” Asks Randy

By Adam Pick on June 7, 2012

I recently received a question from Randy about his teenage daughter who requires surgery due to a leaking aortic valve.

In his email, Randy writes, “Hi Adam – My daughter, Haley, has severe aortic valve regurgitation.  She is 14-years old and was diagnosed at age 9.  She is asymptomatic but conditions have progressed to a point where surgery is warranted. My wife and I are struggling with choosing the right procedure.  Our medical team has recommended valve repair first and valve replacement second.  Based on all information gathered to this point, we are leaning towards mechanical valve replacement for Haley. What do you think? Thanks, Randy”


Question Mark WIth Heart On The Bottom


I wanted to provide Randy an expert opinion, so I contacted Dr. Fayyaz Hashmi from Mercy Health System in Toledo, Ohio. I recently met Dr. Hashmi at the Heart Valve Summit. Beyond being a very experienced surgeon, with over 10,000 procedures completed, Dr. Hashmi is a very kind, soft-spoken man with an altruistic and global approach to cardiac care.

Continue reading this post »

Are You Ready To Be Inspired?

By Adam Pick on June 4, 2012

There are no words for what you are about to see… For what is about to occur…



To learn more about ‘Flatline to Finish’ and how you can support this extraordinary effort, please click here. Go Dave!

Go Iron Heart Racing Team!


AdventHealth (formerly Florida Hospital Cardiovascular Institute) Launches ‘Heart Valve Clinic Microsite’ In Our Cardiac Clinics Section

By Adam Pick on June 4, 2012

As many of you know, Dr. Kevin Accola and his team at AdventHealth (formerly Florida Hospital Cardiovascular Institute) have been incredibly supportive of our patient and caregiver community. In addition to providing  great surgical results — to patients like Denise Ring, Duane Hunt, Scott Nieman and many others — Dr. Accola and AdventHealth have provided excellent content to further educate and empower us through heart valve surgery.

Today, I am very excited to announce that the Orlando-based cardiac center launched the AdventHealth Heart Valve Clinic Microsite within the cardiac clinics section of our website.


The AdventHealth Hospital Heart Valve Clinic Microsite


At their microsite, you can go on a virtual tour of AdventHealth, learn more about their cardiac specialties, see patient success stories, and watch a video about Dr. Accola’s approach to heart valve surgery. To visit the AdventHealth Heart Valve Microsite, please click here.

Continue reading this post »

Off-Topic: iPads & Magic Collide In Stockholm

By Adam Pick on June 4, 2012

Tony, my father-in-law, and I are technology enthusiasts. In particular, we have a mutual fondness for Apple products. That said, when Tony sent me this video, I found myself saying ‘Wow’ several times. Already, over 2 million people have watched the video. I hope you enjoy it!



Keep on tickin!

“How Long Does It Take My Heart To Heal?” Asks Carolyn

By Adam Pick on May 31, 2012

I just received a great question from Carolyn about ‘heart healing’ after valve repair or valve replacement surgery. In her email, Carolyn writes, “Adam – I’ve read a lot on your website about the time needed for the sternum to heal. But, what about the heart? After it’s stopped, opened, fixed and restarted, how long does it take for the cardiac muscle to heal? Thanks! Carolyn”


Broken Heart With Band Aid Across It


I wanted to provide Carolyn an expert opinion, so I contacted Dr. Luis Castro, the Medical Director of Sequoia Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute, in Redwood City, California.

Continue reading this post »

Study: On-X Mechanical Heart Valve Replacement Shows Mortality Benefit

By Adam Pick on May 30, 2012

Since launching this website, I’ve noticed a trend favoring tissue valves over mechanical valves. While patients are attracted to the durability of a mechanical valve replacement, it seems as if many patients — of all age categories — want a Coumadin-free life. Plus, the possibility of valve-in-valve procedures appears to be another key factor in their selection process.


On-X Mecahnical Heart Valve With White Background


However, a study published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, reported that the On-X mechanical heart valve replacement performed favorably to tissue valves. More specifically, the On-X valve offered the 172 patients in the study a mortality benefit 7.5 years after surgery.

Continue reading this post »

Trivia Time: Do 20% Of Healthy, Middle-Age Men Have Heart Murmurs?

By Adam Pick on May 30, 2012

I just came across an interesting study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine about men and heart murmurs.

According to Dr. Johan Bodegard, a physician at the Oslo University Hospital in Norway, more than 20% of middle-age men have a heart murmur. This low-grade systolic murmur, over time, creates a five times risk of future aortic valve replacement. The study evaluated over 2,000 men, aged 40 to 49, during a 35-year time frame.

A key finding of the study suggested that men with moderate valve disease were 89X more likely to have AVR and a 1.5X risk of death due to heart disease. To learn more about heart murmurs, click here.

This is, yet again, another good reason to actively monitor your valvular defect with regular echocardiogram check-ups.

Keep on tickin!

Community Question: “When Will The ‘Voice of Doubt’ Go Away?” Asks Stephanie

By Adam Pick on May 23, 2012

Earlier today, I spent some time at Heart Valve Journals, our online community. While there, I read an interesting question posted by Stephanie Cole, who had mitral valve replacement surgery on March 16, 2012.

In her journal, Stephanie asked, “When does that little, tiny ‘Voice Of Doubt’ go away? Is my valve still intact? Is my heart still shrinking? I love the freedom to do ‘anything’ but what if the doc’s were wrong? I wish I could have monthly echo’s for reassurance.”



Continue reading this post »

“Is Heart Valve Leakage Common After Valve Repair Surgery?” Asks Valerie

By Adam Pick on May 22, 2012

Valerie sent me an interesting question about leaky valves after heart valve repair surgery.

Her email reads, “Hi Adam – I had my mitral valve and tricuspid valve repaired in October 2011. I recently had an echocardiogram done. The echo showed that both valves are leaking (mildly).  I went to my cardiologist and the surgeon to discuss this. They both told me there was “nothing to worry about”.  I am worried!  I cannot seem to get a straight answer. Is this common to have leakage after a repair with an annuloplasty ring?  I would appreciate any information you have on this situation of a mild leak after a repair. Thank you, Valerie”


Mitral Valve With Regurgitation
Leaking Mitral Valve Diagram


As I’ve received this question twice in the last week, I wanted to provide Valerie (and you) an expert response, so I contacted Dr. Patrick McCarthy, the Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. During his thirty-year career, Dr. McCarthy has performed over 10,000 cardiac procedures of which more than 4,000 included valvular treatment.

Continue reading this post »

Enhanced Website Feature: Your Patient Success Stories!

By Adam Pick on May 21, 2012

Over the years, I’ve received hundreds of success stories from patients and caregivers within our community.

With the relaunch of our website, I wanted to create a special place to feature your inspirational stories and your smiling faces. For that reason, I just built a new ‘Patient Success Stories’ section of the website. Today, you will see 16 patient success stories featured. However, this number will quickly increase as I go back through all the wonderful stories previously posted in the blog and our Heart Valve Journals community.


Patient Success Stories For Heart Valve Surgery

If you have a story you would like to share, please send me your story along with a picture or two. My email is!

Thanks again to everybody who has shared their experiences within our community!

Keep on tickin!

Meet Karen Campo, Our “Featured Patient” at Heart Valve Journals

By Adam Pick on May 19, 2012

Hi everybody,

I wanted to take a quick moment to introduce you to Karen Campo, the new featured patient at our Heart Valve Journals Community. Unlike many patients who monitor their heart valve disease for years, Karen is on the “Fast Track” to heart valve surgery as she was recently diagnosed with severe mitral regurgitation.


Karen Campo With Son - Our Featured Patient
Karen with her son Matty


Karen’s attitude warrants attention. She’s very positive and upbeat. As she writes in her journal, “This has all happened really fast, but I am trying to learn as much as I can, have a positive outlook and look to family and friends for support.”

Keep on tickin’ Karen!

My thoughts and prayers are with you!

In Memory of Cindy Pastrano, Wife and Mother

By Adam Pick on May 18, 2012

I am very, very, very sad to report that Cindy Pastrano, a fellow patient from San Antonio, Texas, recently passed away.

Since joining our community, I had become familiar with Cindy as she shared her experiences with us at her journal. Given her energetic attitude, funny remarks (including her distaste for the dentist), and post-operative status, I was shocked to learn of her passing.


In Memory Of Cindy

At her journal, Cindy’s sister-in-law, Lori, provided this note:


We have some very sad news to share. As you might have known, Cindy was expected to be discharged yesterday. However, she suffered some complications. At approximately 11:30 pm Thursday night, it appears she suffered a severe heart attack and was in critical condition in ICU. She under went 2 surgeries and her condition never improved. At 12:15 am today, while surrounded by her family, Cindy left us to be with her Lord. Love never dies and her love will live on in our hearts. We will miss her very much.


If you would like to leave a message in Cindy’s memory, please click here.

Needless to say, my thoughts and prayers are with Cindy, her husband Peter, Cory, Sean and Eileen (her children), her family and friends.

Mitralign Gets $35 Million For Less Invasive Mitral Regurgitation Treatment

By Adam Pick on May 18, 2012

As we continue to track the new technologies impacting heart valve treatment, I thought you might like to know about an interesting treatment method for mitral regurgitation. The Mitralign device enables physicians to repair a mitral valve using a catheter-based procedure instead of an incision to the sternum or ribs.


Logo Of Mitralign Company


Unlike the Mitraclip, another transcatheter technology which clips the mitral valve leaflets together to reduce regurgitation, the Mitralign system repairs a dilated mitral valve by reducing the size of the annulus which moves the leaflets closer together. The result is a decrease in mitral insufficiency.

Mitralign is currently conducting clinical studies. Ultimately, its recent $35 million financing, will be used to secure a European CE Mark that will enable Mitralign to market the device overseas. As you may be aware, this approach is common for companies with new technologies that eventually apply for FDA approval here in the United States.

As we continue to learn more about this and other exciting technologies, I’ll continue to feature them here in this blog.

Keep on tickin!

Special Announcement: The Relaunch of!

By Adam Pick on May 17, 2012

Dear Patients, Caregivers & Friends –

In 2006, we started this website with a goal to help one fellow patient through heart valve surgery. Over time, that mission has expanded to educate and empower all patients and their caregivers.

To accomplish that mission, our website has transformed to meet the needs of our growing community. That transformation continues today with the internal relaunch of To introduce everybody to the new platform, we created this introductory video.



While we are excited about the 50+ new features and functions of this upgraded platform, we know there is a lot more work to do.

Still, in this moment, I want to thank you for being a part of this extraordinary community. Your participation and your support of this project is making a significant difference in our collective pursuit of healthy hearts.

Over the next two weeks, we will highlight the new features of this website. If you like, you can subscribe to this blog (it’s free) to get the latest updates. Also, if you have any additional ideas or constructive criticism to improve this website, please let me know.

Again, thanks so much for your support!

Keep on tickin!

The New ‘Valve Clinic Directory’ Section Of Our Website!

By Adam Pick on May 17, 2012

Over the past year, I have spoke with many of you about the different ways in which we could improve this website. Many of the comments I received went something like this…

  • “It would be great if there was a section about the hospitals.”
  • “Why don’t you have clinic profiles like you have surgeon profiles?”
  • “It’s great that you have educational materials about heart valve disease and treatment. It also helps that you have information about the surgeons. But, what about the hospitals? You should connect the dots… Build a section of the website all about the cardiac centers.”

As many of you know, I really appreciate your feedback. The more I thought about your comments, the more I became inspired to take action. That said, I’m very excited to introduce you to our new Heart Valve Clinics section.


Heart Valve Clinic Section Of Website
The New Cardiac Clinics Section of


This section of the website features the clinics that specialize in heart valve treatment. To start, we are incredibly lucky to be featuring several sponsors including Cleveland Clinic, Mount Sinai, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Sequoia Heart Hospital, Florida Hospital Cardiovascular Institute and USC. Coming soon, we will also feature Northwestern Memorial Hospital.


Screenshot Of Cleveland Clinic Heart Valve Clinic Microsite
The New Cardiac Clinic Profile Application (Cleveland Clinic)


Our new ‘Clinic Profile Application’ enables you to:

  • Go on a virtual tour of the cardiac clinics (using either pictures or a video)
  • Learn about the hospitals
  • Meet surgeons that specialize in valve therapy
  • See patient success stories
  • Download surgical outcomes (if available)
  • Contact the clinic coordinators
  • Get additional information including insurance, external links, location, maps, etc.

Continue reading this post »

The ‘Learning Center’ Gets A Face-Lift

By Adam Pick on May 17, 2012

Another major enhancement to our relaunched website is the new Learning Center.

To further help patients and caregivers learn about heart valve disease, surgeons, cardiac clinics, treatment options and recovery, we segmented the information by category. The picture below should help illustrate this new approach.


The Heart Valve Surgery Learning Center

While there is a much more content to upload to the Learning Center, I am hopeful this improved feature will further support you from diagnosis through recovery.

To access the Learning Center, you will find it in either the Patient Resources or Caregiver Resources sections of the website.

Keep on tickin!

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