By Adam Pick on February 19, 2010
I just received an interesting question from Bill about heart valve replacement surgery and cardiac rehabilitation programs.
Bill writes, “Hi Adam – I had my aortic valve replaced and the aortic root repaired. After leaving the hospital, I slept in a recliner for three weeks, had frequent dizzy spells, back spasms and felt like I was in a fog. I was told by the doctors the dizzy spells and the fog was the anesthesia. After the third week, the fog lifted and I was able to walk at a brisk pace for 4 miles. Life was looking and I was feeling good. Then the big disappointment, I over did it! Back to the dizzy spells, back spasms and fatigue. It took me four weeks to recover. I’m in my 6th week after surgery and wondering when Cardiac Rehab should start? Thanks! Bill Weeks”
By Adam Pick on February 17, 2010
Life is fantastic mixture of good days, tough days, great days and, sometimes, bad days. However, every once in a while, we are fortunate to experience… extraordinary days.
Recently, in Greeneville, North Carolina, I had one of those rare, extraordinary days.
“What the heck happened to Adam?” you might be wondering.
Well… I was very fortunate (and very lucky) to spend the day touring the East Carolina Heart Institute with Dr. Randolph Chitwood.
Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood – East Carolina Heart Institute
By Adam Pick on February 9, 2010
It is often said that heart surgery can be a physical and emotional rollercoaster for patients. There are ups… And, there are downs.
If anyone can testify to that realistic thought, it is Duane Hunt. As you might recall, I recently featured Duane’s story at our new online community, Heart Valve Journals, following his mitral valve repair.
By Adam Pick on February 7, 2010
Last Wednesday, our patient and caregiver community was fortunate to participate in an exclusive, online chat with Doctor Marc Gillinov, MD, one of the leading heart valve surgeons from The Cleveland Clinic.
As this was our first, interactive chat with The Cleveland Clinic, I was curious (and a bit nervous) to receive feedback from their team following the event.
By Adam Pick on February 3, 2010
I just received a great email from Dale about sternum and shoulder clicking after open heart surgery.
Dale writes, “Hi Adam – I had my surgery on November 2, 2009. The surgeon replaced my bicuspid aortic valve (with a bovine tissue valve), the root aorta, and grafted a large piece of my ascending aorta. I have a question… I have some very occasional clicking in my sternum. However, I also have clicking in my right shoulder. It has become more intense, frequent and uncomfortable. Is this normal? Thank you for both the book and this blog! Dale Pfeiffer”
By Adam Pick on February 2, 2010
On Wednesday, Dr. Marc Gillinov, one of the leading heart valve surgeons from The Cleveland Clinic, is going to host an exclusive, interactive chat with our community.
As we prepare for the hour-long event, which takes place from 2pm to 3pm (EST) today, I have received several, great questions from patients and caregivers that are going to participate in the chat. That said, I will use this blog to answer the six, most common questions filling my inbox.
QUESTION 1 – Can I still register for the event?
Answer: Yes, you can still register for the event. To register for the event, simply click this link and follow the instructions.
QUESTION 2 – Is the online chat free? Or, do I need to pay?
Answer: The event is completely free for everybody.
By Adam Pick on January 31, 2010
Are you ready for some very interesting heart valve surgery trivia?
The question for today is, “When was the first successful mitral valve repair surgery?”
Your multiple choice answers are:
Scroll down below the mitral valve repair diagram for the answer.
By Adam Pick on January 31, 2010
I recently met Dr. Giovanni Ciuffo, a cardiac surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Although it was our first time chatting, I really enjoyed learning about Dr. Ciuffo’s practice which specializes in minimally-invasive heart valve surgery and, at times, bloodless surgery.
During our conversation, Dr. Ciuffo mentioned an article he just published about aortic valve stenosis and its impact on elderly patients. I found the article, “Aortic Stenosis – The Neglected Child: Novel Techniques To Take Care Of It”, full of educational and interesting information. That said, I thought you might like to review it as well. So, here are select excerpts from Dr. Ciuffo’s latest publication:
Calcific aortic valve stenosis (AS) is quite frequent in our population. A clear increase in prevalence is seen with age: 1-3% in patients aged 65-75 years, 2-4% in those aged 75-85 years, 4% in patients older than 85 years.
It is, without a question, a disease of the elderly with the exception of patients with bicuspid aortic valves who present with severe AS or Aortic Insufficiency (leaky valve) two decades earlier and the rare case of rheumatic valve disease.
Picture Of Calcified Bicuspid Aortic Valve
By Adam Pick on January 29, 2010
Two weeks ago, we introduced a unique website feature known as Heart Valve Journals. I’m very happy to report that the number of new journals launched – by patients and caregivers – has soared!
One of the most active patients within this new community is Duane Hunt from Winter Haven, Florida. Not only is Duane active, he is a very funny writer. Plus, Duane’s friends and family are showering him with support as his Guestbook already has 175+ comments.
Duane And Peggy Hunt
By Adam Pick on January 26, 2010
I just received an interesting email from Tammy that touches on heart valve surgery, atrial fibrillation and the MAZE procedure.
Tammy writes, “Adam – Like a couple of your readers (Mark, Patrick and Anita), my doctor has suggested that I need a combo operation that includes a mitral valve repair due to regurg and a Maze procedure for atrial fibrillation. I’m just starting to do my research and was wondering if you have any videos about the Maze procedure. Thanks, Tammy”
Interestingly enough, I’ve noticed that several patients are discussing the MAZE procedure in their new Heart Valve Journals. That said, I located a great video by Dr. Niv Ad of Inova Health System which discusses the MAZE procedure and atrial fibrillation. So… Without further ado, here is the video:
You can learn more at our new AFib & Heart Valve Education Center.
I hope this video helped Tammy (and perhaps you) learn more about the MAZE procedure and heart valve surgery.
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on January 25, 2010
My wife, Robyn, loves the television show Grey’s Anatomy.
That said, on Thursday nights, after Ethan goes to bed, we enjoy watching the trials-and-tribulations of the fictitious Seattle Grace Hospital.
I will admit, the writers of Grey’s Anatomy do a great job developing likable characters (Meredith, McDreamy, The Chief) that are caught in a perpetual whirlwind of personal, professional and medical drama.
By Adam Pick on January 17, 2010
I have some great news to share! As a result of your 100+ responses to an earlier post, the Cleveland Clinic will host an exclusive, interactive chat with Dr. Marc Gillinov, M.D. and our community! If you didn’t know, Dr. Gillinov recently performed aortic and mitral valve surgery on Robin Williams, the actor and comedian.
The event is scheduled for Wednesday, February 3rd from 2pm – 3pm (EST) and will provide you with direct access to Dr. Gillinov, one of the world’s leading heart valve surgeons.
To participate in the chat, please follow these steps:
By Adam Pick on January 14, 2010
Dear Patients, Caregivers, Surgeons & Friends –
Thanks to many of your suggestions, ideas, emails and phone calls, I have spent the past 8 months working on a new, FREE Internet application designed exclusively for our growing heart valve surgery community.
This online tool, known as Heart Valve Journals, was developed to help you communicate with family and friends during your heart valve surgery experience – from diagnosis to recovery. Also, this new section of the website enables you to meet, to learn from and to support other patients around the world… 24 hours a day.
We recently performed a 3-month beta test of Heart Valve Journals with several patients including Joel, Cheryl, Ken, Tara, Kim, Eric, Lucy, Helen, Bobbie, Rob, William, Susana and many others. To my surprise, the results of that test surpassed all expectations!
By Adam Pick on January 10, 2010
I think we were just presented with an incredible opportunity… However, I’m curious to know what you think?
The other day I spoke with The Cleveland Clinic’s Patient Education Team. During our discussion, they offered our patient and caregiver community a live, Internet chat with one of their heart valve surgeons. That said, this online session would enable you to get your questions answered from one of the world’s leading cardiac centers.
By Adam Pick on December 30, 2009
Looking back on 2009, it seems like heart valve surgery was one of the most popular topics within cardiac care.
On one hand, many public figures were treated for valvular disorders including aortic stenosis and mitral regurgitation. On the other hand, several medical advances relative to heart valve surgery were covered in research journals, on radio, television and across the Internet.
Beyond the media, this global community of patients, caregivers and surgeons continued to actively discuss many personal topics that impacted our own, heart valve surgery experiences throughout the past year.
That said, I just reviewed all 305 blogs posted during 2009 in an effort to highlight the Top 10 Heart Valve Surgery Blogs. I used several factors including, but not limited to, web traffic reports, your comments and your emails to identify the top blogs.
So you know, this was a lot harder than expected. As you will see below, there were three ties.
By Adam Pick on December 29, 2009
As the new year begins, I wanted you to know that I recently began shipping advanced copies of the new 2010 edition of my book, The Patient’s Guide To Heart Valve Surgery.
Some highlights of the fully-revised 2010 edition include:
- Over 40 pages of new information specific to heart valve replacement and heart valve repair surgery.
- References to over 135 patient experiences with heart valve surgery (including more than 10 new patient success stories).
- A new Top 30 Most Recommended Surgeons listing.
- 20 more medical diagrams and patient pictures are included to help you better understand heart valve surgery from the patient perspective.
- Special eBook interactive hyperlinks to all Internet references within the text.
By Adam Pick on December 26, 2009
I just received an interesting email from Sandy which addresses a key point and warning for patients – especially women. That said, I thought you might like to learn more about Sandy’s heart valve surgery experience. Here is what she wrote to me:
I am a 52-year old female. I had a mitral valve prolapse / heart murmur for 10+ years. So you know, I was never told I might need surgery someday. However, after my annual echocardiogram, the cardiologist informed me that I had severe regurgitation and an enlarged heart. At the time, my only symptom was fatigue.
Crooked Open Heart Surgery Scar
Well… I am extremely thankful and truly overflowing with gratitude that my doctors diagnosed my condition. My valve was repaired without any complications and I feel like I have a new heart!
By Adam Pick on December 24, 2009
Carole just sent me an email that touches on a common, patient emotion prior to surgery… fear.
In her note she writes, “Adam – Next week I am scheduled for surgery due to severe mitral regurgitation resulting from a prolapsed valve. I’ve known about this for over 15 years but I can’t believe the time is finally here. Thank you for your book and your blog. However, even with all the helpful information, I’m still scared. As the surgery approaches, I’m not sleeping well – which makes the situation even worse. I have to ask… Do you have any final pieces of advice to calm my fears? Thanks for all you do, Carole”
Like many of you, I can relate to Carole’s concerns as she prepares for surgery. Although statistics suggest most patients live longer, healthier lives after heart valve surgery, that does not stop fear from rattling our consciousness.
So… In response to Carole’s question, I do have two, final bits of advice specific to fear management that might help.
By Adam Pick on December 23, 2009
In the past, we’ve discussed how patients, like Sylvia Woolworth, got physically and mentally fit prior to heart valve surgery. Specific to this topic, I recently opened an email from Dr. Michael Baity, a retired dentist from Michigan. Dr. Baity just had aortic valve replacement surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. Here is what he wrote to me:
Hi Adam – I live about 450 miles north of Cleveland, way up by the Mackinaw Bridge (Michigan). I am retired but was a dental specialist (Periodontics). I also taught graduate Periodontics at the University of Michigan, part time, for fifteen years, so I have had a lot of academic medicine as well as clinical practice.
Dr. Michael Baity – Heart Valve Surgery Patient
Specific to heart surgery, distance from my home was not a consideration… experience and safety were.
By Adam Pick on December 21, 2009
Emotions can be undeniably strong and turbulent as patients, their families and friends experience heart valve surgery.
On one hand, I experienced a profound sense of appreciation and thankfulness during my recovery. Like many of you, I found myself swirling in waves of emotions that often triggered tears. In fact, the running joke with Robyn (my wife) is that my human donor valve was definitely taken from a female because I became much more “emotionally available” after surgery.
On the other hand, I also encountered emotions (e.g. fear, uncertainty, doubt) that were, at times, daunting. Recently, I spoke with a former patient who told me, “I was downright angry at times… I was only 45 years old and dealing with heart surgery!”
Incidentally, that patient was Dr. Randolph Chitwood, a leading heart valve surgeon who practices at the East Carolina Heart Institute in Greenville, North Carolina. Doctor Chitwood, who is a specialist in minimally-invasive robotic valve surgery, required cardiac surgery several years ago. Later in our discussion, Dr. Chitwood said to me, “I can relate to what patients are going through – mentally and physically.”