Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 52

Pig Valve Replacement Humor… Thanks Kerrigan!

By Adam Pick on March 27, 2009

I’m not a fan of overused cliches. However, if there is one cliche I never get tired of it is, “Laughter is the best form of medicine.”

That said, Kerrigan just sent me this pig valve replacement cartoon that got a good chuckle out of me. Without further ado, I hope this injects some laughter medicine into your veins:


Pig Valve Cartoon


Keep on tickin’ and laughin!!!

On-X Valve Replacement Manufacturer To Double Operations

By Adam Pick on March 27, 2009

I recently learned that the manufacturer of On-X heart valve devices is going to double the size of its operations in Austin, Texas. The parent company, On-X Life Technologies (ON-X LTI), signed a building lease for over 40,000 square feet due to the result of increased demand for its On-X mechanical valves for mitral valve and aortic valve replacement.



”We continue to experience increasing acceptance of the On-X heart valve in the United States and around the world,” said Clyde Baker, On-X LTI president and CEO. “The relocation of our operation to this larger facility will permit us to expand our manufacturing capacity to meet this demand.”

Continue reading this post »

WOW!!! Over 273 Heart Valve Surgeon Profiles Already Uploaded!!!

By Adam Pick on March 25, 2009

Great news regarding the launch of our heart valve surgeon database!!!

I’m very excited to share that our new, FREE database already has over 273 surgeon profiles uploaded! In less than one week, patients from around the world – including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand, Israel, Canada and Mauritius – have uploaded their surgeon information and their feedback.

Thanks so much for your help everybody!!! I know this very unique, heart valve surgeon database is going to help many future patients and caregivers for years-and-years-and-years-and-years to come!



As I wrote earlier, the FIRST STEP of this process is to upload as many surgeon profiles as possible to the database.

That said, if you are a former valve surgery patient and would like to add your surgeon profile, please click here!

The SECOND STEP will be making the database available to everybody for use. This will happen next week when we officially launch our own version of “Google” for heart valve surgeons.

Keep on tickin!

“Who Was Robin Williams’ Heart Surgeon?” Asks Tammy

By Adam Pick on March 23, 2009

I’m not sure if you have followed the latest news coverage of Robin Williams’s heart valve surgery…

But, earlier today it was confirmed that Robin Williams had double heart valve surgery on March 13, 2009 at The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. While initial reports suggested that Robin Williams would only need aortic valve replacement surgery, the Oscar-winning actor and comedian also had his mitral valve repaired.


Robin Williams – Aortic And Mitral Valve Surgery Patient


Tammy wrote me earlier today asking, “Who was Robin Williams surgeon?”

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Does Rob Lowe Have Cardiac Depression After Heart Surgery?

By Adam Pick on March 23, 2009

I don’t know if you like the television show Brothers and Sisters, Sunday nights on ABC. But, Robyn (my very pregnant wife) and I really enjoy watching the trials-and-tribulations of the Walker family.

“Why is Adam writing about Brothers and Sisters?” you may be scratching your head and thinking.

Well… On Brothers and Sisters, Rob Lowe plays the role of Robert McCallister – an eager politician striving to balance the demands of running for governor, fatherhood and his wife, Calista Flockhart (aka Kitty Walker). Recently, Lowe’s character had an unexpected heart attack and cardiac bypass procedure.


Rob Lowe's Character On Brother's And Sister's Experience Cardiac Depression
Rob Lowe After Heart Surgery On Brothers And Sisters


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Certified Dog Therapist, Dyno, Visits Erik In Hospital

By Adam Pick on March 23, 2009

I could not resist posting this very, very, very interesting note from Erik. I never knew that certified dog therapists existed!


I just created a surgeon profile for Dr. Vib Kshettry, Minneapolis Heart Institute, in your surgeon database. I would also give kudos to my cardiologist, Dr. Kevin Graham at the Minneapolis Heart Institute.  They have a heck-of-a-team and clinic there. I just don’t have enough positive adjectives to describe these two physicians.

As a “young” patient at the age of 37, open heart surgery was very scary.  It gave me peace-of-mind to know I had the best-of-the-best. It was a year ago and I feel great.


Dyno, Dog Therapist Visits Heart Surgery Patient and Owner, Erik
Erik, With Dyno, The Dog Therapist, After Heart Surgery


Just for fun……I attached a photo of my first day out of ICU.  Our dog, Dyno, is a certified animal “therapist” and my wife takes her to several hospitals and visits.  This visit was personal.  She actually stayed a couple hours and just slept with me.

Hope all is well with you.


“When Is The Heart And Sternum Healed?” Asks Kerrigan

By Adam Pick on March 19, 2009

Earlier today, Kerrigan and I exchanged emails about the recovery from open heart surgery. Specifically, we discussed the physical healing of the broken sternum and the heart.

In one of his emails, Kerrigan wrote, “I was wondering how long after surgery is the heart considered “healed” as far as the incisions and reattachment of aorta? Thanks, Kerrigan”


Open Heart Surgery Diagram With Chest Retracted


While I have some pretty good thoughts, research and experience on the healing time required for a stitched heart and broken sternum, I am ALWAYS APPREHENSIVE about issuing estimates for patient healing and recovery.

Continue reading this post »

Heart Trivia: How Much Blood Does Your Heart Pump Each Day?

By Adam Pick on March 18, 2009

Any guesses as to how much blood your heart pumps each day?

Need a hint? It’s more than 10 gallons.

Need another hint? It’s more than 100 gallons.

To find out how much blood your heart pumps each-and-every day of your life… Scroll down below the beating heart animation.



According to The Texas Heart Institute, most healthy hearts can pump up to 2,000 gallons of blood during each twenty-four hour period. Isn’t that incredible?

I just did the math. During the time you just read this blog (I assumed one minute), your heart pumped 1.38 gallons of blood through your body!!!

Why am I writing about this? Well… This is exactly why our heart valves need to function properly. If our valves do not open-and-close tightly, the heart needs to pump even more blood which puts additional strain on the heart. If the heart “works overtime” for long periods of time, the cardiac muscle can thicken, dilate and, ultimately, fail.

Keep on tickin!

Even With Recovery Challenges, Josh Feels “New Lease On Life” After Heart Valve Surgery

By Adam Pick on March 16, 2009

Here is an insightful, patient story about Josh from Oregon. As you can read below, Josh offers a unique glimpse into some of the common challenges and opportunities patients experience during early heart surgery recovery. I say “early” because Josh had his operation less than two weeks ago.


Hey there! Just dropping you a note that the “hardest” part is over.

I had my aortic valve replacement and ascending aortic aneurysm repair done on Thursday, March 5th at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. I just filled out your online surgeon database questionnaire so that I could highly recommend my surgeon, Dr. Storm Floten of the Starr-Wood Cardiac Group.


Josh Receives Kiss Following Heart Surgery


I’m happily at home and have been since Monday, March 9th. That’s right… I left the hospital 4 days after my surgery.

Continue reading this post »

“How Long Will I Be In The Hospital?” Asks Wayne

By Adam Pick on March 16, 2009

I just received a great question from Wayne. He writes, “Adam – I’ve been following Barbara Bush’s heart valve surgery. Mostly because, at the ripe age of 62, I’ll be having my mitral valve replaced due to severe regurgitation from prolapse (To learn more about prolapsed mitral valves, click here.). I think Barbara was in the hospital for 9 days. Is it common for valve patients to be in the hospital for that long? Thanks for all that you do! Wayne”

There are really two answers to this question. The first answer I’ll provide is based on patient data I collected during a 2007 survey. In that survey, I asked over 75 former patients the question, “How long were you in the hospital?” As you can see on the chart below, the average response was five days. (So, that is considerably shorter than Barbara Bush’s stay at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas.)


Patient Days In Hospital Following Valve Surgery


The second answer I’ll provide to Wayne’s question is less statistical and much more general. That answer is ‘it depends’. As I have learned over the years, every patient case is unique. In some situations, I know patients that have left the hospital after three days. In other cases, due to heart surgery complications, I know patients who stayed in the hospital for more than two weeks.

I hope that helps Wayne (and perhaps you) better understand how long heart surgery patients stay in the hospital.

Also, as many visitors to this blog are former patients… I’m really curious to know what you experienced. If you have an answer to the question, “How long were you in the hospital after valve surgery?”, please leave a comment below.

Keep on tickin!

Marathoner, Jarrett Roberts, Discovers “Second Chance” After Heart Valve Repair

By Adam Pick on March 7, 2009

There is nothing better than waking up in the morning, putting on my robe and slippers, grabbing a cup of coffee, turning on my computer and reading an inspirational, patient story like the one below. Plus, Jarrett’s thoughts about the “waddling penguins” and the “Adam Tinmen” made me giggle. That said, I thought you might like to read about Jarrett Roberts. He writes:

Hi Adam,

Valentine’s day – with the emphasis on love and hearts – has taken on a new meaning to me and my wife as I am on day 22 of my “second chance at life” as I had my bicuspid aortic valve repaired by Dr. Bruce Lytle at the Cleveland Clinic on January 23, 2009.


Jarrett Roberts - Marathoner And Bicuspid Valve Repair Patient
Jarrett Roberts – Arctic Marathoner And Valve Repair Patient


I found it interesting (at the Cleveland Clinic) to be one of the younger patients in for surgery.  The nurses were all excited that a 6′ 7″ marathoner – I’ve done 83 including Antartica in 2005 – was in for surgery (as they normally get the unusual heart valve cases that other clinics won’t touch).

My bicuspid aortic valve was accidentally discovered less than two years ago during a routine cardiac calcium CT that was misdiagnosed as an aortic aneurysm.  The follow-up tests showed that the radiologist had flipped the numbers and I didn’t have an aortic aneurysm. However, I did have a bicuspid congenital defect of my aortic valve.

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“How Many Aortic Valve Replacement Surgeries Are Performed Each Year?” Asks Tina

By Adam Pick on March 7, 2009

What a week for those interested in the topic of heart valve surgery!!!

First, we learned that Barbara Bush was recovering from aortic valve replacement! Then, news reports started buzzing about Robin Williams’ need for heart valve surgery on his aortic valve.

As a result, my email inbox has been flooded with interesting questions about all types of heart valve surgery – especially aortic valve replacement.


Aortic Valve Replacement – Positioning A Prosthetic Valve


Continue reading this post »

Barbara Bush Recovering From Heart Valve Surgery

By Adam Pick on March 5, 2009

Yesterday, Barbara Bush, at 83 years of age, joined a long list of public figures to have undergone successful heart valve surgery.

The former first lady, Barbara Bush, underwent open-heart surgery Wednesday to replace her aortic valve, a family spokesman said. Barbara Bush’s heart surgery took place at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas and lasted about two and a half hours.


Barbara Bush - Heart Surgery Patient
Barbara Bush – Heart Valve Surgery Patient


Bush, like many patients, was suffering from shortness of breath due to aortic stenosis. This valvular disease results from a narrowing of the heart valve which may occur due to congenital factors, calcification or infection.

Continue reading this post »

Mini-Thoracotomy For Heart Valve Replacement… Jim’s Story

By Adam Pick on March 4, 2009

Interest in minimally invasive procedures for heart valve surgery is increasing for both medical device manufacturers and patients. As we learned last week, Medtronic spent over $1 billion to acquire CoreValve and Ventor Technologies, two companies that specialize in non-invasive valve replacement technologies for diseased aortic valves.

From the patient perspective, the advantages of minimally invasive surgery are (i) less post-operative pain, (ii) faster recovery and (iii) lower mortality. As you have read in this blog, several of my readers have had such procedures including non-invasive robotic surgery for mitral valve repair.

Over the past few months, I’ve been receiving additional comments about minithoracotomy for aortic valve replacement and mitral valve replacement. In this type of cardiac surgery, the patient does not have a median sternotomy in which the sternum is broken (as discussed previously in “Vicki’s Thoracotomy Versus Sternotomy“).

Given this topic, I just received a very interesting patient story from Jim Engelmann. Jim, as pictured below, recently had aortic valve replacement via mini-thoracotomy.


Jim’s Mini-Thoracotomy Scar After Valve Replacement


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“Anxiety After Aortic Valve Replacement Surgery?” Asks Rochelle

By Adam Pick on March 4, 2009

Managing anxiety before heart surgery can be quite challenging for patients and their caregivers. However, Rochelle just asked me an interesting question about dealing with anxiety after heart surgery. Here is what she writes:

“Adam – I had aortic valve surgery 4 months ago. Everything went well but I am suffering from anxiety. I have been taking Ativan… one milligram. I also go to cardiac rehab once a week. My question is, “How many patients suffer from anxiety after heart surgery? Does it ever stop? Thank you, Rochelle (P.S. Your book has helped me alot!)”

Here is my response to Rochelle:

Like you, I also suffer a bit from anxiety. However, I don’t think my anxiety increased after heart valve surgery. To counter the anxiety, I do my best to exercise, to write and to share any anxious thoughts with those around me.

After surgery, I also entered individual counseling. While some patients enjoy support groups, like Mended Hearts, I chose a more personal setting to enhance my mental well-being following the challenges of my recovery.

So you know, I’m not the only patient to seek therapy following heart surgery. In a 2007 study, 9% of patients acknowledged that they saw a therapist post-operation to help with the emotional and behavioral changes after cardiac surgery. From experience, I can tell you that therapy really helped with my anxiety and sleep issues.

Here’s the funny part… It was my brilliant therapist who suggested I write a book and blog about my heart valve surgery journey to help future patient and caregivers. Without her thought, you would not be reading this right now.

I hope this helps you better understand anxiety relative to heart surgery.

Keep on tickin!

Medtronic Further Consolidates Heart Valve Industry

By Adam Pick on February 24, 2009

On November 27, 2007, I posted a blog titled, “Will Heart Valve Manufacturers Consolidate And Gobble Up Each Other?”. In that post, I rambled-on about the possibility that the heart valve industry would consolidate to create advantages for both patients and manufacturers.

Guess what?

Earlier this week, Medtronic spent over $1 billion to acquire two heart valve manufacturers – CoreValve and Ventor Technologies.



In the first deal, Minneapolis-headquartered Medtronic acquired CoreValve, developer of a transcatheter, transfemoral aortic valve replacement product. The deal calls for an initial payment of $700 million plus additional payments contingent upon the achievement of agreed milestones.


CoreValve Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement


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"What’s The Worst Thing About The Hospital?" Asks Barbara

By Adam Pick on February 22, 2009

Barbara, a 57-year old patient from Georgia, just asked me a very honest question about heat valve surgery and hospitals.

She writes, “Hi Adam – I’ve been diagnosed with severe stenosis of the aortic valve. I got a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis. Now, I’m mentally preparing for what lays ahead of me. I’m overwhelmed. Just the thought of heart surgery keeps me up at night. Also, I have an aversion to hospitals. I’ve never had major surgery so I don’t know what to expect. Sometimes my brain focuses on the negative reality of spending several days-and-nights among sick people. This may sound like an odd question, but… What is the worst thing about staying in the hospital after surgery? Thanks, Barbara”



As most of you know, I consider heart valve surgery to be a medical miracle. With this belief, I started this blog and wrote my book with a single passion – to help transform patient fear into patient hope. However, this passion is not oblivious to the fundamental concerns that confront both patients and caregivers as they transition through each phase of cardiac surgery – diagnosis, pre-operation, the surgery and recovery.

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“Mitral Valve Prolapse Diagram… Do You Have One?” Asks Tanya

By Adam Pick on February 20, 2009

I could be wrong but I think the cliche goes something like, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” While I’m not a fan of cliches, I am a fan of this one – especially when it comes to understanding heart valve surgery.

Before my surgery, seeing pictures and diagrams helped me digest (i) my diagnosis and (ii) my need for aortic valve surgery.  I’ve always been a visual person but understanding the structural problems of aortic stenosis was very helpful.

That’s why I really appreciate the email I just received from Tanya. She writes, “Hi Adam – My dad is scheduled for mitral valve prolapse surgery on Tuesday. I think I understand what the problem is. He’s had valve regurgitation symptoms for years. But, I was curious to know if you had any diagrams that show the physical defect of a mitral valve prolapse?”

I guess Tanya and I are somewhat similar – seeing things helps. With that said, here are two pictures which illustrate the challenges when mitral leaflets do not open-and-close properly. The first diagram shows a side-view of the heart and mitral valve prolapse.


Drawing Of The Mitral Valve Prolapse Issues


Here, in the second diagram, you can see a top-down view of a mitral valve prolapse:



Considering the two pictures above… I guess, according to the cliche, I just saved myself 2,000 words. Phew!

Keep on tickin!

“Is Stroke A Risk During Valve Surgery?” Asks Debbie

By Adam Pick on February 18, 2009

I just received a very, very, very interesting question from Debbie about stroke and heart surgery.

Debbie writes, “Adam – My mom is having open heart surgery next week due to severe regurgitation from a mitral valve prolapse. I have heard that stroke is a risk for patients during cardiac surgery. Is that true?”


Diagram Explaining A Stroke


So you know… Debbie’s question brings back a distinct and touching memory for me as I prepared for my own heart valve surgery.

It was December 20, 2005, the day before my aortic and pulmonary valve replacement surgery. I was at USC Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. My pre-operative tests were almost complete when it came time to discuss the surgical consent form.

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After Ross Procedure, Bruce Praises Dr. John Oswalt

By Adam Pick on February 18, 2009

Even though there continues to be some, ongoing debate as to the long-term efficacy of the Ross Procedure, many of my readers continue to select this unique form of aortic valve replacement. Here is the latest Ross Procedure success story from Bruce in Texas.

Hello Adam-

I am now almost 5 weeks post-surgery. I feel GREAT after the Ross Procedure! Doctor John Oswalt is such a caring, compassionate and wonderful surgeon.


Bruce Hale, A Ross Procedure Patient


For me, the days leading to my surgery, specifically the morning of, were very challenging. About one minute after being rolled into the operating room, the general anesthesia kicked in and… I was OUT! The next thing I remember is trying to open my eyes, some 4 hours later. INCREDIBLE.

Here’s a quick play-by-play of my first few days in the hospital:


  • Day one – I was standing up.
  • Day two – All tubes, wires, and other “stuff” were removed. I was actually walking stairs in front of the nurses station.
  • Day three – I was on my way home, two days shorter than most other patients. Certainly, I was scared at the short time in the hospital, but I was ready to be home.


Here I am now, five weeks after surgery. I’m driving and already back to work full time. If not for the dreaded allergy season in Austin, Texas… I would be just perfect. I feel great, but for the nagging cough associated with the allergies. THAT HURTS THE INCISION!


Dr. John Oswalt – Heart Surgeon


Adam, I owe you a great deal of gratitude. It was your heart surgery book that led me to the Ross Procedure. You also referred me to Dr. Oswalt. Thank you so very much for helping me make the most important decision in my life. Now, I am 47 years old and ready to take on the world!!!

God Bless,

Bruce Hale
Austin, Texas

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