Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 46

Doctor Gillinov’s Chat Update… GREAT JOB EVERYBODY!!!

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.

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“Did Your Sternum and Shoulder Click after Heart Surgery?” Asks Dale

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”



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Top 6 Questions About Wednesday’s Interactive Chat With Dr. Gillinov

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.


Dr. Marc Gillinov, Cleveland Clinic Interactive Chat


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.

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Trivia: When Was The World’s First Successful Mitral Valve Repair?

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:

A. 1935
B. 1948
C. 1955
D. 1968
E. 1971

Scroll down below the mitral valve repair diagram for the answer.


Commissurotomy Diagram For Mitral Valve Repair


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“Aortic Stenosis… The Neglected Child” By Dr. Giovanni Ciuffo

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.


Calcified Aortic Valve Picture - Two Leaflets Narrowed
Picture Of Calcified Bicuspid Aortic Valve


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Heart Valve Journals Spotlight: Duane Hunt’s Mitral Valve Repair

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


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“What Is The MAZE Procedure?” Asks Tammy

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!

Grey’s Anatomy Mishandles Heart Valve Surgery

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.

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Register Now For Dr. Gillinov’s Interactive Chat On Wednesday, February 3!

By Adam Pick on January 17, 2010

Hi everybody,

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.


Marc Gillinov Hosts Heart Valve Surgery Chat


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:

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Introducing… Heart Valve Journals!!!

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!

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“How About An Interactive Chat With A Cleveland Clinic Surgeon?” Asks Adam

By Adam Pick on January 10, 2010

Hi everybody,

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.


Cleveland Clinic Heart Surgeon Team

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Top 10 Heart Valve Surgery Blogs of 2009

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.

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New 2010 Edition Of My Book Now Available!

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.



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Even With A Crooked Scar, Sandy Is Extremely Thankful

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:

Dear Adam,

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
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!


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“Any Last Words To Calm My Fears?” Asks Carole

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.

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Dr. Michael Baity Loses 20 Pounds Prior To Aortic Valve Replacement By Dr. McCurry

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.

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“Were You Ever Angry After Heart Valve Surgery?” Asks Dorothy

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.”

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Video: How Do You Feel Immediately After Surgery?

By Adam Pick on December 21, 2009

Patients and caregivers often ask me about the immediate, post-op experience in the intensive care unit. Common questions include:

  • How long were you in the intensive care unit?
  • Did you experience pain immediately?
  • Was your family allowed in the ICU area?
  • How many tubes were sticking out of you when you woke up?

However, one of more common questions I get is, “How did you feel as you came out of general anesthesia?” Honestly, I don’t remember much – just bits and pieces of the first few hours after surgery. But, lucky for me, my family has clued me in on the strange experience of waking up after heart surgery with a ventilator tube, Foley catheter and several other tubes still inserted in my body.

On this topic, I just read that the video below was one of YouTube’s Top 10 Videos of 2009. The video titled “David After Dentist” has been watched over 37 million times this year. It’s not an exact match to the experience of waking up after heart surgery but I think you might find some silly and honest humor as little David talks candidly with his father after dental surgery.




Please remember, each patient case is unique. Just because David was a tad loopy after his surgery, that does not mean you will have the same experience.

Keep on tickin!

My Fourth Anniversary!!!

By Adam Pick on December 21, 2009

Not only is today the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year…

But, it’s also the anniversary of my aortic and pulmonary heart valve replacement surgery!

I have to admit… It is somewhat unbelievable to think that at this exact moment, four years ago, I was in the operating room at USC Medical Center. And, it is unbelievable to think how much good has entered my life since Dr. Starnes “fixed” my heart.


Dr. Vaughn Starnes And Adam Pick
Adam with Dr. Vaughn Starnes (His Heart Surgeon)


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Jack LaLanne, Fitness Guru, Recovering From Heart Valve Surgery

By Adam Pick on December 19, 2009

In addition to Robin Williams, Barbara Bush, Elizabeth Taylor, Ed Koch and many other public figures who had heart valve surgery in 2009…

Fitness pioneer Jack LaLanne is now recovering from heart valve surgery at his home in Morro Bay, California. LaLanne’s publicist, Ariel Hankin, said earlier this week that the 95-year-old underwent the procedure at a Los Angeles hospital on December 8th.


Jack LaLanne - Heart Valve Surgery Patient
Jack LaLanne – Heart Valve Surgery Patient


Hankin says that before surgery LaLanne told his family that “dying would wreck his image”. The weightlifting guru is doing fine and expected to make a full recovery.

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