Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 39

Kato Celebrates Her 95th Birthday, Thanks To The MitraClip

By Adam Pick on June 23, 2012

Over the years, I have been fortunate to meet several extraordinary patients. One such patient is Kato Pomer from Los Angeles, California.

As you might recall from my first post about Kato, she suffered from severe mitral regurgitation that progressed incredibly quick. Considering her age and other factors, Kato’s only hope for treatment was the MitraClip transcatheter valve repair. Thankfully, the team at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center — which included Dr. Karr, Dr. Trento and Dr. Shah — performed a MitraClip procedure. Kato was 92 years old at the time of the operation.

Today, Kato is celebrating her 95th birthday. Yeaahhhhh!!! Reflecting upon her procedure, Kato had the following message to share with her doctors, fellow patients and the FDA about the MitraClip.



Continue reading this post »

Little Darth Vader, Max Page, Recovering From Pulmonary Valve Replacement Surgery

By Adam Pick on June 22, 2012

I just learned that Max Page, the 7-year old actor who played ‘Little Darth Vader’ in a viral Volkswagen commercial, is recovering from pulmonary heart valve replacement surgery.


Max Page, Little Darth Vader & Heart Surgery Patient


It turns out that Doctor Vaughn Starnes, my cardiac surgeon, from USC Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, replaced the pulmonary valve, which was diagnosed as a congenital defect when Max was just 3 months old.

Continue reading this post »

“Are Heart Valve Replacements Stored At The Hospital?” Asks Tanya

By Adam Pick on June 21, 2012

Tanya just sent me a very interesting question about heart valve replacement surgery.

She writes, “Hi Adam – I’ve been diagnosed with a narrow aortic valve at .6 centimeters. I’m currently debating between a mechanical and tissue valve replacement. I’m curious to know how the surgeons get the valves. Do the hospitals order the replacement valves before the surgery? Or, are the valve replacements stored at the hospital? Thanks, Tanya”

I don’t know how all hospitals manage this process but I’ve been fortunate to tour a few cardiac centers that specialize in heart valve treatment. Each one of these centers kept their heart valve replacement devices on-site, ready for implant. More specifically, the devices were stored in large, protected drawers. As you can see, this is a picture of the ‘St. Jude Medical’ drawer I photographed during a recent visit to the Cleveland Clinic.


Heart Valve Replacement Inventory & Storage
St. Jude Heart Valve Replacement Drawer at Cleveland Clinic


It’s also interesting to note that certain heart valve replacements are stored at very low temperatures to preserve the integrity of the tissue. For example, the Cryolife homografts (human donor valve replacements) are typically stored at or below freezing prior to implant.

Continue reading this post »

“Can The Ross Procedure Help Bicuspid Aortic Valve Patients?” Asks James

By Adam Pick on June 17, 2012

I just received a great email from James about the Ross Procedure and a diseased bicuspid aortic valve.

James writes, “Hi Adam – I’m 47 and recently told I need to replace my bicuspid aortic valve due to stenosis. Through your website, I’ve learned about the Ross Procedure as an option for me. It sounds interesting but I’m curious to know if the Ross Procedure can be used for my bicuspid aortic valve? Thanks, James”


The Ross Procedure & Bicuspid Valve
Ross Procedure Diagram & Bicuspid Aortic Valve Picture


Typically, for technical questions about heart valve repair and heart valve replacement operations, I contact our cardiac surgeon team for their opinions on patient questions. Luckily, for this question, I can provide James a direct response.

Continue reading this post »

Tech Update: SAPIEN Valve Replacement Recommended For “High Risk” Aortic Stenosis Patients

By Adam Pick on June 16, 2012

The possibility of aortic valve replacement without an incision to the sternum or ribs of the patient has become a reality for select patient categories. Together, our community has followed the evolution of catheter-based technologies including the SAPIEN heart valve replacement by Edwards Lifesciences which received FDA approval for “inoperable” patients last year. Needless to say, patient interest specific to this and other transcatheter devices, including the CoreValve and the MitraClip, is significant.


SAPIEN TAVI Valve Replacement
SAPIEN Heart Valve Replacement (Edwards Lifesciences)


For that reason, I wanted to make sure you were aware of a recent announcement in which an FDA panel recommended the SAPIEN heart valve replacement for wider use among “high-risk” aortic stenosis patients. So you know, a “high risk” patient is healthy enough to have surgery but faces serious health risks because of age (often greater than 80 years old) or illnesses (like diabetes).

Continue reading this post »

Special Announcement: The Mount Sinai Medical Center Launches Heart Valve Microsite at

By Adam Pick on June 16, 2012

In 2008, when I first spoke with Doctor David Adams, the Chairman of Cardiothoracic Surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, he immediately understood the key objective of this website – to educate and empower patients from diagnosis through recovery. Over the years, Dr. Adams’ support of this project has been extraordinary and, most importantly, Dr. Adams has performed successful surgery on many patients in our community. As you can see at his profile page, Dr. Adams has 25 patients testimonials in our Surgeon Finder.

Today, I’m happy to announce that Dr. Adams and The Mount Sinai Medical Center launched a ‘Heart Valve Clinic Microsite’ at


Mount Sinai Heart Valve Clinic Microsite


Now, patients and caregivers in our community can quickly learn about Mount Sinai’s unique approach to valvular treatment, its surgical outcomes, its team of cardiac surgeons, patient success stories, and more. To visit the microsite, simply click here.

Continue reading this post »

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!

Newest Community Post

Valerie says, "11 weeks post-surgery. Doing well -I"
Read more

Kali says, "Im still in the hospital 10 days later."
Read more

Janet says, "13 years on from AVR and aortic aneurysm"
Read more

Find Heart Valve Surgeons

Search 1,500 patient-recommended surgeons