Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 39

In Memory of Kelly

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.

Holy Moly! We’re In The New York Daily News!

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.


Dr. Anyanwu In The Daily News Talking About


Towards the end of the article, Dr. Anyanwu references websites that offer reliable information for patients and caregivers to consider. To my surprise, is one of those resources! 🙂

Woo-Whoo! Thanks so much to Dr. Anelechi Anyanwu for his recommendation.

Keep on tickin!

Patient Spotlight: Chris Dixon Heads To New York For Ross Procedure

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.


Family Photo During Christmas Time


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.

Continue reading this post »

“Are ‘Valve-in-Valve’ Procedures Possible With The SAPIEN Aortic Valve?” Asks Bernard

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?”


Valve In Valve Aortic Valve Procedure Diagram


To ensure that Bernard received an appropriate answer to his question, I contacted Dr. Eric Roselli, a leading cardiac surgeon from the Cleveland Clinic.

Continue reading this post »

“Are There Size Limitations For The SAPIEN Aortic Valve Replacement?” Asks Anita

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?”


Top View Of SAPIEN TAVI Heart 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.

Continue reading this post »

Our Prayers Are With Kelly

By Adam Pick on February 10, 2012

Hi everybody,

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!

“How Quickly Can Mitral Regurgitation Progress?” Asks Julie

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”


Diagram Of Mitral Valve Showing Leakage Across The Valve


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.

Continue reading this post »

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 & Jeff - Cardiac Surgery Patients Giving Thumbs Up Gesture
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?

Continue reading this post »

Special “Ask The Heart Surgeon” Web Chat With Dr. Gillinov This Friday!

By Adam Pick on February 7, 2012

Hey everybody,

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.


Doctor Alfredo Trento, Cedars-Sinai
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.

Continue reading this post »

“Should I Go With The Robot For My Mitral Valve Repair?” Asks Doug

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.


Continue reading this post »

A Must Read… “Heart 411” By Dr. Gillinov & Dr. Nissen

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.


Heart 411 Book By Dr. Marc Gillinov & Dr. Steven Nissen


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.

Continue reading this post »

Today, My Thoughts Are With Kelly & Mitch

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.


Kelly & Mitch - Heart Surgery Patients Prepare For Surgery

Continue reading this post »

Tech Update: SAPIEN Aortic Valve Replacement Shines At S.T.S.

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:

Continue reading this post »

“Do Asymptomatic Patients Really Need Heart Valve Surgery?” with Dr. Richard Lee

By Adam Pick on January 27, 2012

Following our last post about watchful waiting for patients with moderate heart valve disease, I received several emails from asymptomatic patients. While each email was unique, most patients were curious to know if patients without symptoms should undergo heart valve repair and heart valve replacement procedures — for conditions including aortic stenosis and mitral regurgitation.

Luckily, during my recent tour of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, I was fortunate to discuss this topic with Dr. Richard Lee, an associate professor of cardiac surgery. The video below contains the highlights of our discussion. (For the hearing impaired members of our community, I have provided a written transcript of this video below.)



Thanks to Dr. Richard Lee for taking the time to share his clinical expertise with our community. To learn more about Dr. Lee, please click here.

Continue reading this post »

“If I Have Moderate Aortic Stenosis, Why Should I Wait To Have Valve Replacement Surgery?” Asks Paul

By Adam Pick on January 25, 2012

I just had a very interesting conversation with Paul about the progression of aortic stenosis and the timing of heart valve replacement surgery.

During our chat, Paul asked, “Adam – I am 71 and have been diagnosed with aortic stenosis for over 10 years now. Recently, the disease progressed from mild to moderate. My cardiologist does not believe surgery is needed yet. I don’t want the stenosis to become ‘severe’ knowing the damage it can cause. Why am I being told to wait for surgery? Thanks, Paul”


Aortic Stenosis Watchful Waiting


Paul asked a great question. That said, I wanted to provide Paul a great answer.

Continue reading this post »

Meet Mitch, Our Newest “Featured Patient” At Heart Valve Journals

By Adam Pick on January 23, 2012

I’m amazed by how fast Heart Valve Journals, our social network for patients and caregivers, continues to grow. I’m also very touched by the stories shared within this caring community.

As you may have seen, we always select one patient to be our “Featured Patient” within the community. That said, I would like to introduce you to Mitch Friedman, our current “Featured Patient”.



I could tell you all about Mitch and his upcoming heart valve surgery planned for February 2, 2012 . Instead, I’ll simply encourage you to click this link to learn about Mitch’s pursuit of a healthy heart.

Continue reading this post »

Dr. Paul Stelzer Performs 500th Ross Procedure On Mark!

By Adam Pick on January 11, 2012

After I was diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis and regurgitation, I chose the Ross Procedure for my heart valve replacement surgery. While this approach to aortic valve replacement is more complex, I found the benefits of this procedure outweighed the risks. (To learn more about the Ross Procedure, click here.)

Since launching this website, I have become familiar with a handful of surgeons who are considered Ross Procedure gurus. In particular, Dr. Paul Stelzer, from Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, is widely regarded as one of the most experienced Ross Procedure surgeons in the United States.


Dr. Paul Stelzer In The Operating Room


Continue reading this post »

Surgeon Spotlight: Dr. Marc Gillinov Receives Praise Overload From Patients, Caregivers & Peers

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.


Patient Photo Collage Of Dr. Marc Gillinov, MD


Continue reading this post »

Special Post: Top 10 Heart Valve Surgery Blogs of 2011!

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.

Top 10 List Icon

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.


Patients With Red Pillows


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