By Adam Pick on April 10, 2010
Sometimes, the patient success stories I receive are so interesting, they need no introduction. That said, I hope you enjoy Scott’s unique story:
I have had the intention of writing you numerous times and something always seemed to come up and delay my writing. But today is the day! It is also 2 weeks since my surgery and I feel great!
Scott With Lindsey, Nick and Fred (the Teddy Bear)
First of all let me address the number one reason I am writing to you. It is to say a BIG THANK YOU! Thank you Adam for not only your book but also your website and blog. I have spent much time reading and researching all three for the last month and a half. It is also the first place I came across Dr. Kevin Accola, the surgeon I would ultimately chose to do my aortic valve replacement.
By Adam Pick on April 5, 2010
As I suffered from a calcified heart valve prior to surgery, I definitely perked up when I read this email from Cheryl of Ontario, Canada.
Calcified Aortic Valve (Aortic Stenosis)
Cheryl wrote to me, “Hi Adam – I have heard that some patients have been cautioned about the overuse of calcium supplements (including Rolaids) considering potential damage to heart valve leaflets. As so many patients, especially women, use supplements, I was curious to know your thoughts about calcium supplements. My calcium use was part of my history when I underwent a mitral valve repair and I wasn’t given any warning. What about other antacids such as Tums? Is this a cause of valve failure? Thanks, Cheryl”
By Adam Pick on April 2, 2010
Lately, a wonderful email is going around the Internet about the wave photography of Clark Little, a Hawaiian photographer and surfer. Each time I see the email, I am excited to click on it. And, each time, I end up sighing, “Wowwwwwwwwwwww”, as I scroll through the magical pictures.
Earlier today, I received this exact email from Paul Kiminski, a heart valve surgery patient, who wrote, “Seeing these photos are one reason to stay around – endure the surgery – and enjoy the beauty one more day.”
By Adam Pick on March 31, 2010
Since starting this website four years ago, my primary objective was to help future patients and caregivers understand the challenges, opportunities and realities of heart valve surgery.
Today, I am very excited to share another objective for this work – helping children with heart problems. That said, earlier today, we made a $5,000 donation to the Gift of Life charity.
So you know… In 2008, I was introduced to Gift of Life when Shanna Andrews, a teenager desperately needing aortic valve replacement, emailed me asking for help.
By Adam Pick on March 24, 2010
As we have learned together, there are several strategies and tactics that patients can use to best prepare for their heart valve surgery. Specific to this point, I just received an insightful email from Sam Swerdlow about using guided imagery CDs prior to surgery. Here is what Sam wrote:
Sam Swerdlow, Heart Valve Replacement Patient, & Slater
I wanted to let you know of something very awesome that has happened to me. As I have emailed you before, I have been preparing for my aortic valve replacement by listening to meditation and guided imagery cds.
By Adam Pick on March 23, 2010
I just received a great question from Mary Anne about heart valve anatomy. Specifically, she is interested to learn more about valvular function within the heart.
Mary Anne writes, “Dear Adam – I was recently diagnosed with severe mitral regurgitation. As an active 67-year old grandmother, this has been a difficult time – especially since I’m asymptomatic. However, my heart is already dilated so I’m preparing for surgery. Quick question… If the surgeon can’t repair the valve, I’m thinking about a tissue valve replacement. Do you have any videos that show how tissue heart valves open-and-close? Thanks, Mary Anne”
So you know, I had this exact question prior to my aortic valve replacement surgery. I remember thinking, “How do heart valves replacements work? How do the heart valve leaflets seal?”
By Adam Pick on March 21, 2010
I recently launched a new section of this website called Heart Valve Journals. This interactive tool was designed to help patients, families and friends communicate before-and-after heart surgery. Already, several hundred people have signed up for this free service.
Amy Machtay – Mitral Valve Repair Patient
One of those patients is Amy Machtay from Raleigh, North Carolina. Amy created her own Heart Valve Journal just before minimally invasive, mitral valve repair surgery last month. For me, reading Amy’s journals, seeing her pictures, and reviewing her Guestbook, has been inspirational.
By Adam Pick on March 20, 2010
It feels great to wake up, turn on the computer, click my inbox and open a patient success story.
That said, this is the story of Ashish (Ash) from Indiana. Ash just had robotic mitral valve repair a few days ago. Here are the details:
Ashish – Mitral Valve Repair Patient
I had a successful robotic assisted mitral valve repair performed at the Cleveland Clinic by Dr. Tomislav Mihaljevic on Wednesday, March 10, 2009. I was in the intensive care unit for less than twenty-four hours. Then, I was in a step-down room for two days. In total, I was in the hospital for four days.
By Adam Pick on March 17, 2010
I just received a note from the Patient Education Team at the Cleveland Clinic about a new, online tool for patients with mitral valve regurgitation. The tool is pretty neat for learning about mitral valve regurgitation, the severity of mitral regurgitation, echocardiogram results, ejection fractions, heart dilation and atrial fibrillation.
Ultimately, this new Mitral Regurgitation Tool uses a series of interactive questions to determine whether-or-not you are currently a candidate for surgery. The tool leverages the current guidelines of the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology in determining your situation.
If you would like to use the tool, click here.
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on March 12, 2010
I just wanted to send my thoughts and prayers to Beverly Simmons of Fullerton, California, as she continues her early recovery at St. Jude’s hospital.
For those of you who have not visited Bev’s Heart Valve Journal yet, she had aortic valve replacement – using a pig (porcine) valve – on February 16, 2010. (Bev suffered from aortic stenosis.)
Beverly Simmons, 83, Heart Valve Replacement Patient
Although Bev, who celebrated her 83rd birthday in the hospital, recently received a “clean bill of health” from her doctors, the past few weeks have been filled with several ups and downs – including an emergency room visit days after her surgery.
That said, thanks to all of you who have posted over 275 comments in Bev’s Guestbook. I know she appreciates reading your words of encouragement and love.
Keep on tickin’ Bev!
By Adam Pick on March 10, 2010
Over the years, I have interacted with many patients that suffer from atrial fibrillation and heart valve diseases including aortic stenosis and mitral regurgitation. To learn more about atrial fibrillation and heart valve disease, I contacted Dr. Niv Ad, a leading cardiac surgeon at White Oak Medical Center in Takoma Park. Here are the highlights from our very interesting discussion:
Adam: Thanks so much for taking time to speak with me today. I’d like to ask you a couple questions about atrial fibrillation and heart valve disorders.
Dr. Niv Ad: Thanks Adam for raising awareness to this very important topic.
By Adam Pick on March 10, 2010
As many of you know, this is a very exciting time for the heart valve surgery community given the rapid advance of medical technologies used to treat diseases including aortic stenosis and mitral regurgitation.
Last week, St. Jude Medical, one of the leading heart valve manufacturers, cleared a significant hurdle for the commercial release of its new Trifecta heart valve replacement. In case you missed it, St. Jude announced that its Trifecta valve received CE mark approval for the device within the European Union. (The device is still in clinical trials here in the United States.)
Trifecta Heart Valve (Source: Medgadget)
By Adam Pick on March 10, 2010
Are you ready for another interesting “True / False” trivia question about heart valve surgery? Okay… Is this statement true or false?
One of the first heart-lung machines used in cardiac surgery, the Dewall-Lillehei machine, cost only $15 to manufacture.
For the answer, please scroll below the picture of Richard Dewall and his artificial heart-lung machine (1955).
With about $15 worth of odds and ends from their laboratory — including tubing made for carrying beer — two University of Minnesota medical legends, Richard Dewall and Walt Lillehei, ended the era when a serious heart defect meant a drastically shortened life.
By Adam Pick on March 3, 2010
I just received a very, very, very educational and inspirational story from Kevin Haines about stroke, heart valve replacement, rehab, Coumadin and cardiac depression. That said, I thought you might enjoy it…
I have written you in the past but wanted to give you a post-op update. My aortic valve was replaced in October 2008 with a St. Jude mechanical valve. I also had a root repair completed during surgery. I was 38 years old when we discovered calcified aortic valve leaflets. So you know, a piece of calcium broke free and traveled to my brain causing a stroke.
Since the stroke and surgery, I continue to make progress towards a healthy life. I have come back from the procedure very strong. I credit my recovery to my support group (especially my wife), my heart and stroke teams at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and my rehab nurses who helped me through 26 cardiac rehab sessions. Your book, blog, and the readers comments have also been a huge help.
By Adam Pick on February 28, 2010
Earlier this month, Dr. A. Marc Gillinov – one of the leading heart valve surgeons from The Cleveland Clinic – held an exclusive, online chat with our patient and caregiver community. Thanks to your interactive participation, this event was an overwhelming success!!!
Today, I am excited to announce that the written transcript of Dr. Gillinov’s chat, “Advancements In Heart Valve Surgery”, is now available for free download. Simply click here to download the 27-page transcript.
Thanks again to The Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Gillinov and, of course, all of the patients and caregivers who attended the event and submitted questions.
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on February 26, 2010
There is nothing better than waking up, enjoying a cup of coffee, turning on the computer and finding a patient success story in my inbox.
Today, I received a patient success story all the way from Portugal. It’s about Filomeno Faustino’s recent aortic valve replacement with a Carbomedics Top Hat mechanical device. Here is what Filomeno wrote to me:
By Adam Pick on February 25, 2010
Since launching this website in 2006, our community has grown way, way, way beyond my initial expectation.
As a result, several new features have been created to help patients and caregivers through the heart valve surgery process. Two recently released services include the Heart Valve Surgeon Database and Heart Valve Journals.
To help you quickly access these tools, I just acquired some easy-to-remember domain names, also known as URLs. That said, here they are:
- www.HeartValveBook.com – This domain name leads to information about my book.
- www.HeartValveBlog.com – This URL takes you straight to this blog.
- www.HeartValveSurgeons.com – This domain name takes you to our heart valve surgeon directory with over 500 surgeon profiles.
- www.HeartValveJournals.com – This URL takes you to our social network that connects patients and caregivers all over the world.
I hope these new domain names help you remember and visit the different services available at this website.
As always… Thanks to all of you who emailed me with this request!!!
Keep on tickin!
By Adam Pick on February 23, 2010
Not too long ago, I received a very special email from Dr. Paul Massimiano of Inova Health Systems in Falls Church, Virginia. In the email, Dr. Massimiano informed me that Inova holds an annual patient reunion to (i) share their latest research and (ii) show Inova’s appreciation for their patients, families and friends.
As I read the note, my eyebrows jumped to the top of my forehead. I thought, “That is fannnnnnn-tas-tic! I’ve never heard of anything like this before… A patient conference? Great for Inova! Great for its patients!”
Then, to my surprise, Dr. Massimiano asked me if I would be interested in speaking at the event.
Dr. Paul Massimiano, Adam Pick, Dr. Niv Ad & Dr. John Glick
By Adam Pick on February 21, 2010
One of the primary exams used to detect heart valve disease involves the stethoscope.
While this diagnostic device, invented by Rene Laennec in 1816, is not as technologically advanced as 3D-MTEE imaging, stethoscopes can help cardiologists and surgeons quickly identify variable forms of heart valve disease.
When I was diagnosed with severe heart valve disease, I was curious. So, I located three audio files, posted by Dr. Solanki, which contain the sounds of hearts beating with (i) normal heart valves, (ii) aortic valve stenosis and (iii) mitral valve regurgitation. If you are interested, I have provided these audio clips below.
First, here is the sound of a normal heartbeat. You can hear the traditional “lub-dub” as the four heart valves open and close.
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”