Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 55

“What Is An Annuloplasty Ring?” Asks Regina

By Adam Pick on December 15, 2009

I just received an interesting question from Regina about heart valve repair surgery. Her question focuses on the use of annuloplasty rings to treat leaky heart valves.

Regina writes, “Hi Adam – Although I’m 58, I was recently diagnosed with mitral valve regurgitation. My cardiologist thinks I may need surgery in the next year. The disease is categorized as moderate-to-severe. The cardiologist mentioned the potential use of an annuloplasty ring but did not explain why I might need one. Can you help me better understand the role of an annuloplasty ring? Thanks, Regina”


Annuloplasty Ring For Mitral Valve Repair


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After Two Valve Repairs And CryoMaze, Mark Praises Dr. Adams

By Adam Pick on December 15, 2009

I’m currently traveling through Europe for work. Right now, I’m on a train going from Eindhoven to Amsterdam in The Netherlands. Yes, it’s cold. But, not as cold as Helsinki, Finland where it was freeeeeezing.

Luckily, I have a few moments to read personal emails. One of those emails was from Mark Linnus, a 46 year-old patient from New York who was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse and severe regurgitation. Over the past year, I have corresponded with Mark about his upcoming valve surgery. In particular, much of our exchange focused on surgeon selection.

Well… Mark has good news to report. Here is what he wrote to me:


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“Happy Holidays!” Says Ethan

By Adam Pick on December 15, 2009

From Robyn, myself and, our little one, Ethan… Happy Holidays Everybody!!!



May you have an incredibly healthy and happy holiday season!!!

Keep on tickin!

David Shifts From Edwards Lifesciences’ Employee To Patient

By Adam Pick on December 3, 2009

Some may call David’s story ironic. I call it fantastic. That said, I thought you might find this unique story of interest. Here is what David wrote to me:

Hi Adam,

I just had my calcified aortic bicuspid valve replaced with an Edwards Lifesciences pericardial (bovine) valve on October 28, 2009. I also had a single mammary bypass for a calcified lesion in my LAD coronary artery. I am 69 years old. I think I have a little different perspective on all this as I worked for and retired from Edwards Lifesciences, the world’s largest heart valve replacement manufacturer, after 33 years employment.


David Swendso, Heart Surgery Patient with Dr. Bethencourt
David Swendson With Dr. Bethencourt – Discharge Day!


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Kelly’s “Watchful Waiting” Ends With A Medtronic Pig Valve, Thanks To Dr. Miller

By Adam Pick on November 28, 2009

Kelly just sent me this very interesting story which touches on several critical factors specific to heart valve surgery from the patient perspective. That said, I thought you might want to learn about Kelly and her surgeon, Dr. Kevin Miller. Here is what she wrote to me:


Patient, Kelly Gaul, Receives Pig Valve Replacement
Kelly Gaul – Heart Valve Replacement Patient


Hi Adam,

It’s been about 7 or 8 months since I first found your web site, ordered your book and touched base with you.  I am a 56-year old woman who leads a very active lifestyle – hiking, backpacking, and cross-country skiing.  I knew I had a heart murmur since I was 25 years old, but didn’t realize it was a bicuspid valve accompanied by aortic stenosis until about 7 years ago (mild-moderate at the time).

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“How Common Is Heart Valve Disease Among Seniors?” Asks Heidi

By Adam Pick on November 26, 2009

I just received a great question from Heidi about heart valve disease, surgery and seniors.

She writes, “Adam – My mom, Betty, has recently been diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis. Although her murmur was detected years ago, I never thought she would need open heart surgery. She’s 68 but acts like she’s 38. No symptoms at all. I’m curious… How common is valve disease and surgery among seniors? Thanks, Heidi”


Seniors With Heart Valve Disease


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After “Waiting Too Long”, David Has Heart Valve Surgery Before Aneurysm Ruptures

By Adam Pick on November 23, 2009

Here is some great patient advice from David about (i) treating heart valve disorders in a timely fashion and (ii) being your own, best patient advocate. David wrote to me:

Hi Adam,

I’m a 55-year old man living in Maine. I just underwent aortic valve and ascending aorta replacement surgery on November 10, 2009.


David, An Aortic Valve Replacement Patient, With A Red Pillow
David Belisle – Heart Valve Replacement Patient


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“Do You Have A Heart Valve Replacement Diagram?” Asks Wendy

By Adam Pick on November 23, 2009

I don’t know about you, but I am a very visual person. For some reason, diagrams, pictures, illustrations always help me better understand concepts. As a result, I could really relate to Wendy’s question about heart valve replacement diagrams.

Wendy writes, “Hi Adam – I’m 59 and preparing for mitral valve replacement. Everybody keeps talking to me about what is going to happen but I still don’t understand it completely. Do you have a picture that could help me understand where the valve will go in my heart? Thank you, Wendy”

No problem Wendy! To support you and others, I just came across this great diagram which illustrates where the heart valve replacement device will be positioned in your heart.


Heart Valve Replacement Diagram For Aortic & Mitral Positions


As you can see above, this diagram shows two valvular disorders – aortic valve regurgitation and mitral valve regurgitation. The picture also shows the two types of valve replacement devices that can be used within your heart (mechanical valves and biological valves).

I hope this helps!

Keep on tickin!

In Memory Of Valerie Fisher Raley Moriarty

By Adam Pick on November 17, 2009

It has been a very tough morning for me. Without a doubt, these are the hardest blogs to write.

I recently learned that Valerie Fisher Raley Moriarty passed away over the weekend due to complications following her heart valve surgery.


Valerie Fisher Raley Moriarty (1980-2009)


According to her husband, Valerie experienced multiple organ failure and a heart attack following double heart valve replacement surgery. Having traded emails with Valerie leading up to her surgery, I am deeply saddened by her passing.

Memorial services will be at Bridges Funeral Home on Rutledge Pike, Wednesday, November 18 at 6pm in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her burial will be Thursday, November 19 at 11am at Caledonia Cemetery on Ruggles Ferry Parkway.

My thoughts and prayers are with Valerie, her husband Bill, her family and friends.

“Did You Have A Bump At The Top Of Your Incision?” Asks Alice

By Adam Pick on November 13, 2009

Alice just sent me a great question about incision and scar care after heart valve surgery.

She writes, “Adam, I am 55 and had open heart surgery to replace my valve about three weeks ago. Most of my scar looks OK, flat and thin.  My concern is the top of the scar — around and above the top of the incision is a big protruding lump.  It is soft, not hard, and is not sore. Did this happen to you? Thanks, Alice”


Top Incision Bump After Heart Surgery - Patient Picture


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Trivia: Who Is The World’s Longest Living Heart Valve Recipient?

By Adam Pick on November 11, 2009

It is perhaps one of the most common and appropriate questions I receive from patients and their caregivers. That question is, “What is my life expectancy after heart valve surgery?”

As we all know, every patient case is unique. But, the research suggests that life expectancy after heart valve surgery continues to improve thanks to incredible advancements in medical technology and surgical know-how.

To this point, I was just reading a very interesting story in the Sentinel-Tribune about Bobby Baker.

In case you didn’t know, Bobby Baker just received a Guinness Book World Record for being the longest, living survivor of heart valve replacement surgery.

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After Heart Valve Repair, Cindy Takes Mosquito For A Horseback ride!

By Adam Pick on November 9, 2009

It feels great to receive and share patient success stories from all over the world. That said, I thought you might enjoy reading about Cindy, her horse (Mosquito) and her recovery from heart valve repair surgery. She writes…

Hey Adam,

I wrote you a little while back. As you may recall, I was curious to know how and when you knew you were fully recovered after heart valve surgery. Well… I have good news to share. Today was my first time back on my horse, Mosquito!!!


Patient Goes On Horse Back Ride After Heart Surgery
Cindy Rides Mosquito For The First Time After
Heart Valve Repair For Mitral Valve Prolapse


It was my nine-month anniversary of mitral valve prolapse repair and it was a picture perfect day here in California. My husband snapped this photo of us. (To learn more about mitral valve prolapse, click here.)

My horse, Mosquito, had not had anyone on his back since last December. So, we are getting our bearings here at home before heading to Montana de Oro State Park for a “real” horseride.

Another milestone in the recovery process! YES!!

Thanks again for your heart valve surgery book, your blog and your help through this journey.  I know you were a great benefit to my recovery.

Cindy Tarver

Keith’s Recovery Tip: Do Everything With Both Hands!

By Adam Pick on November 5, 2009

Here’s a great recovery tip from Keith about using both hands after open heart surgery. Keith writes…

Hi Adam,

We have traded emails several times before. I have mainly asked you for contacts of other patients (like myself) who needed heart valve replacement following radiotherapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

I had my diseased aortic valve replaced exactly one week ago now (with a bovine valve) at the Mercy Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand. I came home after five nights and I’m surviving on just 4 paracetamol a day!



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“What About Port Access For Heart Valve Surgery?” Asks Taylor

By Adam Pick on October 31, 2009

I just received a great question from Taylor about heart valve replacement and heart valve repair options. Specifically, Taylor is curious to learn more about the Port Access System for the surgical treatment of aortic stenosis.

Taylor writes, “Hi Adam – I’m 62 years old and my cardiologist thinks I need heart valve replacement surgery due to stenosis in the aortic valve. The valve is narrow (.8 cm) and I’m starting to feel the symptoms – especially shortness of breath and fatigue. The docs have referenced the Port Access technique to replace the aortic valve. What do you know about the Port Access system? Thanks Taylor”


Port Access Surgery Diagram For Valve Replacement
Diagram Of The Port Access Technique


Taylor raises an insightful question which focuses on the different options by which surgeons perform heart valve replacement and heart valve repair surgery.

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“Are Flu Shots and Swine Flu Vaccines Safe After Heart Valve Surgery?” Asks Jackie

By Adam Pick on October 27, 2009

Considering the recent Swine Flu outbreak, I’ve received several emails about flu shots and heart valve surgery.

I just opened a note from Jackie that reads, “Hi Adam – I recently had mitral valve replacement with a pig valve due to severe regurgitation. I’m curious to know if there is any reason I >should not get a flu shot or an H1N1 vaccine? Thanks! Jackie”


Swine Flu Vaccine After Heart Surgery


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At 85, After Tissue Valve Replacement And Pacemaker Implant, Connie Keeps On Walking!

By Adam Pick on October 23, 2009

I just received a great patient story from Connie Batich. Considering that Connie’s note touches on so many elements of heart valve surgery – diagnosis, symptoms, second opinions, angiograms, vent tubes, a-fib, recovery – I thought you might appreciate reading about her experience. Here is what Connie wrote to me:


We both had heart valve surgery. Only difference.. You were 33 and I am 85!

I’ve had a heart murmur all my life. But, in 1996, I felt palpitations and went to a cardiologist who diagnosed stenosis of the aortic valve. Since then, I’ve seen a cardiologist yearly for an echocardiogram and stress test. Then, about two years ago, my cardiologist called me all excited that my stenosis was severe and I should have the valve replaced right then-and-there!


Connie Batich, Heart Valve Surgery Patient


Well, my family wanted a second opinion… So, I went to another cardiologist who said, “Well, let’s wait until you get symptoms.”

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“Metallic Taste After Heart Valve Surgery?” Asks Robin

By Adam Pick on October 23, 2009

I just received a set of emails from Robin about a metallic taste in her mouth after heart valve surgery. So you know, Robin is not the only patient to send me questions about this strange, surgical after taste.


Metal Taste In Mouth After Surgery


In his first email, Robin writes, “Ever since my aortic valve replacement surgery I have had a nasty metallic taste in my mouth.  It gets especially bad if I eat anything sweet. The cardiologist theorizes that it is a by product of the heart-lung machine. Anybody else experience it? Anybody have any ideas of how to get rid of it? Thanks, Robin”

Then, I received a follow-up note from Robin with a short-term remedy to this issue.

Here is what Robin writes, “Since I last wrote to you I found a website that suggested gargling with water and a 1/4 tsp of baking soda.  It worked!!!  It brought relief at least for a few hours.  Ultimately, the bad taste did go away on its own, but the baking soda gets a great assist. Robin”

Thanks Robin for sharing your remedy!

Keep on tickin!

Adam Says, “Thank You! New Website Features Almost Here!”

By Adam Pick on October 22, 2009

Hey everybody,

When I launched this website years ago, I had two fundamental goals:

  • My first goal was to educate patients and caregivers about the realities of heart valve surgery.
  • My second goal was to empower you to make the right choices given your diagnosis and prognosis.

Over time, these goals have turned into one of my life passions. That passion has churned out a lot of blogs over the years. Today, this website has over 2,200 pages of free content to help you through heart valve surgery. As a result, my friends have started calling me the Dear Abby of heart valve surgery.


Adam & Ethan Pick
Me & Ethan (my 6-month old son)


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“Bleeding Gums, Coumadin & A-Fib After Heart Valve Surgery?” Asks Laura

By Adam Pick on October 22, 2009

Given the recent post about endocarditis, swine flu and heart valves, I’ve received several emails about these topics. Laura just sent me an interesting question asking for your help about dental cleanings, gum bleeding and atrial fibrilation.

Laura writes, “Hi Adam, I had double valve replacement surgery a little over a year ago and have been feeling very good. Then, I went to the dentist for my routine cleaning. I took my usual prophylactic antibiotics. My gums bled almost all day because of the Coumadin. Then, I started getting irregular beats that feel like borderline atrial fibrillation (a-fib). This happened to me six months ago as well. It took about 10 days for it to go away. Has anybody else had this experience? What can I do about it? Thanks, Laura”

Unlike Laura, I did not experience the complications referenced above. That said, I was hoping you might be able to help her. If you experienced issues with gum bleeding and a-fib after heart valve replacement or heart valve repair surgery, could you help her by leaving a comment below?

In advance, thanks for sharing your thoughts with Laura.

Keep on tickin!

“Is Heart Valve Surgery Common For My Age?” Asks Phil

By Adam Pick on October 18, 2009

I just received a very appropriate email from Phil about age groups and heart valve surgery.

Phil writes, “Hi Adam – On Friday, I was diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis due to a bicuspid aortic valve. I’m 48 years old with three great kids and a loving wife. This was a complete shock to me and I’ve spent the weekend digesting the uncomfortable news that open heart surgery awaits me. It’s odd. Although I knew about the murmur, I was told this wouldn’t impact my heart for 10 or 20 years. Now, the doc says the valve is calcified and surgery is a must. Is heart valve surgery common for my age group? Thanks, Phil”

Phil raises some excellent points in his question. In fact, Phil’s story brings back several memories specific to my own diagnosis and surgery. Like Phil, my valve disease rapidly progressed from moderate to severe aortic stenosis. Like Phil, I had a bicuspid aortic valve. Like Phil, I was told surgery would not occur until I was in my 50’s. (FYI, at the time of my surgery… I was thirty-three.)


Picture Of Calcified Heart Valve Leaflets


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