Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 57

Your Hospital & Overnight Visiting Hours

By Adam Pick on September 21, 2008

If you are a patient or caregiver preparing for heart surgery, I want to make sure you don’t have a false expectation regarding overnight visiting hours in the hospital.

While many caregivers want to sleepover in the hospital (see “Ali’s 12 Night Hospital Stay“), each hospital has its own rules about whether-or-not caregiver slumber parties are allowed.

In my case, I was blessed one night… Cursed the next… And then, blessed again.

 

 

On my first night in the intensive care unit, Robyn (my wife) negotiated with the Head Nurse to stay with me. Many years later, I still can’t believe what Robyn did that night.

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“Anemia After Heart Surgery?” Asks Everitt

By Adam Pick on September 21, 2008

I just received an email from Everitt, 65, about anemia. He writes, “Adam: I had mitral valve replacement two weeks ago. That was some experience. I’m glad to be home but I’m also concerned. I’m very pale and lethargic. By pale, I mean I’m white as Casper the Ghost. Do other patients become anemic after heart surgery?”

 

 

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Greg’s Rather Comical Inquiry Into Median Sternotomy (Plus Video)

By Adam Pick on September 21, 2008

Every once-and-a-while, I receive patient email that is both curious and comical. This email, from Greg (in Oregon), qualifies as one of those special emails…

Hi Adam – My name is Greg and I bought your book a couple months ago and have been reading your blogs ever since! I have never written to you with a question before, but I have one that I would really like answered for my own peace-of-mind.

I have a bicuspid aortic valve with stenosis and regurgitation that I am told will need to be replaced possibly as soon as November of this year (that is when I am scheduled for my next EKG with my cardiologist). Thanks to your book and blogs I feel I have educated myself quite a bit in regards to what I should expect during this process, but one question that I have never seen addressed is in regards to the “breaking of the sternum”.

 

Breaking The Sternum via Median Stenotomy

 

Is the sternum really BROKEN? I just always assumed that a saw or cutting wheel of some kind was used, but all I ever hear or read is about it being broken. How do they do this? Does the surgeon and an assistant across the table make a wish first?

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Heart Surgery Cartoon: The Sound Of…

By Adam Pick on September 16, 2008

I’ve learned that laughter is one of the best forms of medicine relative to heart surgery. With that noted, I offer you a truly tasteless but quite funny heart surgery cartoon:

 

Heart Surgeon Cartoon And Joke

 

He… He… He…

Keep on tickin!!!
Adam

Thoracotomy Vs. Sternotomy For Vicki’s Mitral Valve Surgery… Any Female Perspectives?

By Adam Pick on September 16, 2008

Vicki (pictured below) recently sent me a question regarding her upcoming mitral valve surgery. While I have some ideas for Vicki, we thought it might be helpful for Vicki to gather feedback from other patients – especially females. That said… Do you have any thoughts for Vicki? Here is what she writes:

Hi Adam,

I’m scheduled for mitral valve surgery (hopefully repair, not mitral valve replacement) on September 26. I’m a very fit 54-year old woman that climbs mountains, bikes and generally expects a lot of her body!

 

 

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In Memory Of Young, Smiling Sasha Bartin

By Adam Pick on September 16, 2008

I just read this tragic story from The Telegraph in the United Kingdom. My thoughts and prayers are with Sasha, her family and her friends.

Sasha Bartin, described as a girl who never stopped smiling, was taken ill during a hockey lesson at Westfield Community School, Yeovil, Somerset, on Monday morning. According to one her friends who just emailed me, “Sasha fell over, then she tried to get back up, her eyes went fixed and she fell back down. In the ambulence she stopped breathing.”

The thirteen-year old, who was waiting for an operation to mend a faulty valve in her heart, complained of chest pains and asked for time to recuperate. She was taken to Yeovil District Hospital but later died with her parents by her bedside.

 

Sasha Bartin (1995-2008)

 

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How Much Does The Da Vinci Surgical Robot Cost?

By Adam Pick on September 16, 2008

The use of robots for minimally invasive heart valve surgery continues to rise.

If you read the patient success stories of our own Larry Larsson and Leslie Lafayette, you will quickly understand the benefits of the da Vinci Surgical Surgical Robot for heart valve disorders including prolapsed mitral valves.

 

The da Vinci Surgical Robot

 

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Edwards’ Perimount Magna Mitral Valve Replacement Gets FDA Approval

By Adam Pick on September 16, 2008

More news from the leading heart valve manufacturer this week…

According to Reuters, Edwards Lifesciences Corp said won U.S. regulatory approval for a device to replace diseased mitral valves, one of the most common forms of heart valve abnormalities (including mitral valve prolapse).

Edwards’ Perimount Magna mitral valve replacement will be launched in the United States immediately, making Edwards the only company to have a bovine pericardial mitral valve replacement on the U.S. market.

 
 

Edwards’ Perimount Magna For Mitral Valve Replacement

 
 

As you may know, mechanical valves last longer than tissue valves, but patients with mechanical replacement valves must take a blood thinner, like Coumadin. Alternatively, tissue valves are more convenient and those derived from cows are perceived by some physicians to last longer than those from pigs. For more on the pros and cons of mechanical and bioprosthetic valves, click here.

Medtronic and St. Jude Medical also compete in the mitral valve market with a mix of mechanical valves and valves made from pig / cow tissue. Edwards, an Irvine, California-based company, posted total sales of $1.1 billion in 2007.

According to industry estimates, there will be 35,000 to 40,000 surgical mitral valve replacements in the United States this year to correct defect valvular disorders like mitral valve prolapse.

Keep on tickin!
Adam

Emotional And Behavioral Changes After Heart Surgery… For Beth & Erik

By Adam Pick on September 12, 2008

Beth just emailed me about her husband’s problematic recovery from heart surgery. She writes, “Hi Adam – My husband had heart valve replacement surgery (from mitral valve prolapse with regurgitation) two months ago. Since then, he seems to be experiencing some emotional and behavioral changes after heart surgery. Although his heart is doing great, Erik seems to be “a little down” and somewhat “out of it” since the heart surgery. Any thoughts? Thanks, Beth.”

 

 

Here are my thoughts for Beth:

As patients, we enter the operating room with two critical thoughts. The first thought is, “Please let me live!” The second thought is “Please fix my heart so that I can live longer!”

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How Long Until Patients Regain Consciousness After Open Heart Surgery?

By Adam Pick on September 12, 2008

I just clicked on an email from Esther that reads, “Hi Adam – How long does it take for patients to regain consciousness after open heart surgery? I am preparing for the replacement of my mitral valve due to my worn out and prolapsed mitral valve. I’m just curious to know how long I’ll be unconscious, under general anesthesia. Thanks. Esther.”

From my own experience, I can share with you that I went under general anesthesia at 11am – once I was brought into the operating room. According to Robyn, my wife, my open heart surgery was 3 hours long. After surgery, I was rolled into the intensive care unit (ICU) where I was actively monitored by an ICU nurse for the next several hours.

 

 

Then, around 5:30pm, I SLOOOOOOWLY (emphasis added) began to regain consciousness. At first, I only heard noises. Next, my eyes began to open slightly and close slightly. The epic moment, when I knew I had fully regained consciousness was when the very uncomfortable ventilator tube was removed from my dry throat.

So, given the above, it took me about 6.5 hours to regain consciousness after open heart surgery. However, please know that each patient case is unique. There are many variables which could impact surgery length (e.g. heart surgery complications) and the time that a patient is unconscious.

I hope that helps explains how long it takes for a patient to regain consciousness after heart surgery.

Keep on tickin!
Adam

“Do You Lose Weight After Heart Surgery?” Asks Sally

By Adam Pick on September 12, 2008

Yes.

That is my answer to Sally’s question, “Did you lose weight after heart surgery?”

 
 

 
 

In fact, I lost A LOT of weight after heart valve replacement surgery. Robyn (my wife) just reminded me that I lost about 15 pounds during the three months after heart surgery. Before surgery, I weighed 187. Then, I dropped to 172. Ultimately, I ate like crazy to fuel my body as it healed. Now, I’m hanging around 192 pounds. I’d like to get back to my pre-surgery weight of 187 – but you probably know how tough it is to lose that final 5 pounds.

So you know, not all patients lose weight after heart surgery. I have spoken to a number of patients that have had the exact opposite occur…. They gain weight from fluid retention.

Regardless of whether you lose or gain weight, the critical element of surgery is that your heart is fixed and your surgery is successful. A few pounds here-or-there won’t kill you, but a faulty valve will.

Please scroll below to post a comment or read over 40 patient reactions below!

Keep on tickin!
Adam

Name Of David Letterman’s Heart Surgeon

By Adam Pick on September 11, 2008

Lisa was recently diagnosed with severe mitral valve regurgitation due to due to mitral valve prolapse. That said, Lisa is currently searching for a heart surgeon. She writes to me, “Hi Adam: I live in New York…. And, I am curious… Do you know the name of David Letterman’s heart surgeon?”

 

David Letterman

 

As you may know, David Letterman had emergency heart surgery on January 14, 2000 at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York. David Letterman’s surgeon was Doctor O. Wayne Isom, the Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery. Due to a blocked artery, Letterman had quintuple heart bypass surgery.

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“How Long Does Heart Valve Surgery Take?” Asks Shirley

By Adam Pick on September 10, 2008

I really appreciate patients that actively prepare their caregivers and their support group for heart surgery.

Earlier today, I opened an email from Shirley that reads, “Adam – At 62, my prolapsed mitral valve is worn out. I’m going in for surgery to replace my mitral valve next week. I want my husband and children to know how long they may be in the waiting room… So, how long does heart valve surgery take usually?”

 

 

The really tough part about answering Shirley’s question is that there are many variables to each, particular heart valve surgery. For that reason, my standard response to this question is, “It depends.”

For example, my double heart valve surgery lasted 3.5 hours from the time I entered the operating room to the time I “checked-in” to the intensive care unit (ICU). Alternatively, I know of several patients that had surgeries well over 10 hours due to heart surgery complications.

That is why I hesitate to give a specific answer to the question, “How Long Does Heart Valve Surgery Take?”. However, if I was really pressed to answer this question, I would estimate between 3 and 5 hours.

Keep on tickin!
Adam

What Are Your Mechanical Aortic Valve Replacement Options?

By Adam Pick on September 10, 2008

Angie just made a big decision. After researching her options and talking with several patients and surgeons, Angie has selected a mechanical aortic valve replacement for her diseased, bicuspid valve that suffers from severe stenosis. (To learn more about bicuspid valves, click here.)

She writes, “Hi Adam – I never thought it would be so hard to pick between a mechanical or bioprosthetic valve replacement, but it was. Considering my age and fear of another heart surgery, I’m going for the mechanical! Now, the question becomes, which is the best mechanical aortic valve replacement for me. Any thoughts? Thanks, Angie.”

This is a tough question. In fact, it is a question I try not to answer considering that many surgeons have “valve replacement favorites” after several years of clinical work. However, this blog is about educating patients and caregivers about heart valve surgery. That said, I will reference a number of different mechanical aortic valve replacement operation devices below.

Here is a picture and link to Medtronic’s Hall Easy-Fit Mechanical Prosthesis:

 
 

 
 

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Allergic Reaction To Sternum Wires After Heart Surgery?

By Adam Pick on September 10, 2008

Josie just wrote me an interesting email about sternum wires. She asks, “Adam – I’m eight-weeks post-op and, like you, suffering from on-going chest pain. Plus, my skin is sensitive. By chance, have you ever heard of a patient experiencing an allergic reaction to the sternal wires after heart surgery?”

My immediate answer to Josie’s question was a simple no. However, after doing some research there are a few instances in which patients have suffered from allergic reactions to the wires that hold the sternum in place after cardiac surgery.

 

 

Dr. Takazawa from Juntendo University in Japan states, “To our knowledge, this is the first reported case of a manganese metal allergy to stainless steel wire. A 51-year-old man suffered from a refractory pruritic erythematous wheal after the insertion of a stainless steel wire. The patch test showed strong reactions to manganese, one of the constituents of stainless steel wire. After the removal of all stainless steel wires, the symptoms were much improved, except for mild pruritus on his face.”

Interesting right?

Keep on tickin!
Adam

Calcified Aortic Valve Stenosis – What Is It?

By Adam Pick on September 10, 2008

According to reports, aortic valve stenosis is relatively common problem effecting 2% of people over the age of 65, 3% of people over the age of 75, and 4% of people over the age of 85. One of the major causes of stenosis is the calcification of the aortic heart valve. This is especially likely to occur in people with a bicuspid aortic valve, but also occurs as a result of age-induced ‘wear and tear’.

Typically, aortic stenosis due to calcification of a bicuspid valve occurs in the fourth or fifth decade of life. Whereas, aortic stenosis — due to calcification — of a normal valve tends to occur in the seventh or eighth decade of life. To learn more about aortic stenosis, click here.

 

 

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“Cat Scans After Open Heart Surgery?” For Jerry

By Adam Pick on September 10, 2008

Jerry just wrote me asking, “Did you have a cat scan after your open heart surgery?”

Hmmm. I have to admit, I don’t remember having a cat scan after my aortic valve replacement surgery. However, I did have a bunch of x-rays taken after the operation. In fact, I was taken to Radiology every morning following my aortic valve surgery.

 
 

 
 

If you are interested to learn more about cat scans, here is some good information from RadiologyInfo.org.

  • CT scanning—sometimes called CAT scanning—is a noninvasive, painless medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.
  • CT imaging uses special x-ray equipment to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body and a computer to join them together in cross-sectional views of the area being studied. The images can then be examined on a computer monitor or printed.
  • CT scans of internal organs, bone, soft tissue and blood vessels provide greater clarity than conventional x-ray exams.
  • Using specialized equipment and expertise to create and interpret CT scans of the body, radiologists can more easily diagnose problems such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, trauma and musculoskeletal disorders.

I hope that helps explain more about cats scans after heart surgery.

Keep on tickin!
Adam

Pumphead? Cognitive Decline After Heart Surgery?

By Adam Pick on September 5, 2008

On the topic of cognitive decline after heart valve surgery, Dan and I just had the following email exchange:

Dear Adam,

I recently purchased your book and have been reading your newsletter. I find both very helpful and encouraging. I thank you for your efforts and concern for others who are going through experiences similar to yours.

 

 

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All About Dressler’s Syndrome – Ken’s Complication

By Adam Pick on September 5, 2008

I just received an email from Ken – a fellow patient who had aortic valve replacement surgery earlier this year. Like many heart surgery patients, Ken experienced a complication after heart surgery. Specifically, Ken had an issue with Dressler’s Syndrome. If you are unfamiliar with Dressler’s Syndrome, I have provided some information below from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Dressler’s syndrome is a complication that can occur following a heart attack or heart surgery. It occurs when the sac that surrounds your heart (pericardium) becomes inflamed. An immune system reaction is thought to be responsible for Dressler’s syndrome, which can develop several days or weeks after heart injury.
  • Dressler’s syndrome causes fever and chest pain, which can feel like a heart attack. Also referred to as postpericardiotomy and postmyocardial infarction syndrome, Dressler’s syndrome is easily treated with medications that reduce inflammation.

 

Dressler's Syndrome
Dressler’s Syndrome (Diagram)

 

  • With recent improvements in the medical treatment of heart attack, Dressler’s syndrome is far less common than it used to be. However, once you’ve had the condition, it’s likely to recur, so it’s important to be on the lookout for any symptoms of Dressler’s syndrome if you’ve had a heart attack, heart surgery or other heart injury.
  • Your doctor can diagnose Dressler’s syndrome from the classic signs and symptoms, listening to your heart and sometimes using blood tests. Other diagnostic tests may also include an echocardiogram or EKG.
  • Complications of Dressler’s syndrome are cardiac tamponade, constrictive pericarditis, pleurisy and pleural effusion.
  • Mild cases of Dressler’s syndrome may get better on their own without treatment. Your doctor may recommend bed rest until you’re feeling better. More severe cases require medications to reduce the inflammation around your heart. Sometimes hospitalization is necessary.

I hope this helps you learn more about the post-operative complication known as Dressler’s Syndrome.

Keep on tickin!
Adam

Dr. Richard Shemin & Robotic Mitral Valve Repair Get ‘Thumbs-Up’ From Larry

By Adam Pick on September 5, 2008

Following his recent mitral valve repair, Larry just sent me a glowing report about his minimally invasive procedure in which Doctor Richard Shemin (UCLA) used the Da Vinci robot. Here are the details from Larry…

Hi Adam,

I had mitral valve repair surgery along with replacing the two cords that hold the mitral valve in place with Gore-Tex cords. The operation was six hours long. Your readers should know that I had this procedure done by the da Vinci robot manufactured by Intuitive Surgical. The surgeons did not have to open up my chest, but only three little incisions on my side. From the moment I woke up from surgery, I have had zero pain and have taken no painkillers. If the patient is a candidate for robotic mitral valve repair surgery, the procedure is as good as the normal surgery of opening up your chest, and the recovery makes it 100% better.

 


Da Vinci Surgical System

 

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