Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 62

“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

Written By: Adam Pick, Patient Advocate, Author & Website Founder
Page last updated: November 7, 2023

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 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.

Continue reading this post »

“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

Written By: Adam Pick, Patient Advocate, Author & Website Founder
Page last updated: November 7, 2023

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


Continue reading this post »

“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


Continue reading this post »

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

Written By: Adam Pick, Patient Advocate, Author & Website Founder
Page last updated: November 7, 2023

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.

Continue reading this post »

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

Heart Health Tests For Men From The Today Show

By Adam Pick on February 18, 2009

I start my days with a good, fifteen minute stretch that includes both breathing and yoga exercises. Some days, I watch The Today Show with Matt Laurer, Meredith Vieira, Ann Curry and Al Roker as I stretch.



This morning… There was a very interesting segment led by The Today Show’s chief medical editor, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, about heart disease. Doctor Synderman reviewed her six critical tests for men to monitor heart-health throughout their lives.



As heart disease is the #1 killer among men, I listened intently to Dr. Snyderman’s compelling discussion. In fact, I even stopped my stretch, grabbed a pen-and-paper and started taking notes. (I guess I’m a little sensitive to anything heart-related after my double heart valve surgery.)

Here are the six tests Dr. Snyderman believes are critical for monitoring heart health in men:

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Happy Valentines Day!!!

By Adam Pick on February 14, 2009

On behalf of Robyn (my wife) and Baby Pick (my unborn son), I wanted to wish you a very, very, very Happy Valentines Day!



I hope you all take a few, if not many, special moments to appreciate the love within your heart and the hearts of those around you.

Keep on tickin!

Mike’s Aneurysm and Aortic Valve Replacement Surgery – A Weekly Synopsis

By Adam Pick on February 10, 2009

Mike just had open heart surgery to correct an aneurysm and leaky heart valve. I thought you might enjoy reading about Mike’s positive outcome and his incredibly positive attitude. Here is what Mike wrote to me:

Hi Adam, I wanted to thank you for your book. It certainly helped me to understand what was going to happen to me and what to expect – before, during and after heart surgery.

My Story: I went in for a routine physical last July and although I’ve had a heart murmur all my life, my doctor noticed the murmur was significantly louder. He ordered an ultrasound and sure enough it showed my aortic valve was leaking over 50 percent of what it was pumping. I also had an aneurysm in the first six inches of my upper aorta measuring 5.3 cm. I was told I should get it fixed within the next 5-to-6 months.


Patient With Incision Down The Middle Of His Chest


Continue reading this post »

Off-Topic: My Birthday, Baby Pick Smiles In The Womb

By Adam Pick on February 10, 2009

Hi everybody,

I just wanted to say thank you for all the kind emails, phone calls and letters regarding my birthday. As you may know, I turned 37 earlier today. (Actually, I will really turn 37 tonight. I was officially born at 10:35pm.)

After work, Robyn and I are going to celebrate at one of my favorite, local restaurants here in Los Angeles!



Speaking of birthdays…

Baby Pick is getting closer-and-closer to his birthday. As Robyn’s tummy gets bigger (and cuter), our little boy is really putting on weight. With eight weeks to go, he now weighs over 3 pounds, 8 ounces.

So you know, we had a four dimensional (4D) sonogram last week. We actually saw Baby Pick smile in the womb!!! And, truth be told, we also saw him wee-wee in the womb as well!!!


Baby Pick - 29 Weeks


Is he cute or what? (I’m guessing all parents would say the same thing, right?)

Keep on tickin!

Doctor And Mountain Climber, Leo Hernandez, Recovering From Bicuspid Valve Replacement

By Adam Pick on January 30, 2009

I just received this educational and inspirational note from Dr. Leo Hernandez, MD. I thought you might enjoy reading, seeing and learning about Leo’s heart valve surgery journey. He writes:

Good Morning Adam:

My name is Leo Hernandez and I had my aortic valve replaced on my 57th birthday on January 6, 2009 by Dr. Richard Shemin at Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

I have read your book – which I found very inspirational – and have been reading your blog for the past few months. I would like to share my story with you in the event you would like to include it in your blog.


Dr. Leo Hernandez – Shortly After Aortic Valve Replacement


Continue reading this post »

I’m Smiling From Ear-to-Ear

By Adam Pick on January 30, 2009

This is fun…

I’m noticing a fantastic, new trend as of late. Many of my readers are now sending me pictures of themselves with my book. Here are two examples of Peter (from California) and Emmanuel (from United Arab Emirates).



I can’t tell you how great it makes me feel to receive your pictures, your emails, your phone calls and your cards. To know that I am making a difference in your lives is more rewarding than anything else I have experienced thus far in life.



That said…  I’m smiling from ear-to-ear right now!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! 🙂

Keep on tickin!

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