Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 62

Lisa’s Mitral Valve Repair, Blood Transfusions and… Christmas Shopping

By Adam Pick on December 24, 2008

This email just came in from Lisa, a registered nurse from Colorado, who had mitral valve repair surgery less than two weeks ago. I thought you might appreciate reading about Lisa’s experience, her attitude toward heart surgery and her early recovery. Here is what she wrote:

Dear Adam,

I had my surgery on Thursday, December 11th and things went pretty well. The surgeons were able to repair my mitral valve, which should last 20 years or so before any additional work may need to be done.


Lisa Darr – Mitral Valve Repair Patient / Nurse


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My Annual Echocardiogram With Dr. Rosin

By Adam Pick on December 24, 2008

I’m just returning from my annual echocardiogram with Dr. Ben Rosin, my cardiologist at Torrance Memorial.

As some of you already know, these annual exams are fairly stressful. The last thing I, or anybody, want to hear is that a heart valve surgery re-operation is required.


Dr. Ben Rosin and Adam Pick at Torrance Memorial Hospital
Dr. Ben Rosin & Me


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“Can You Get Life Insurance After Heart Surgery?” Asks Jerry

By Adam Pick on December 24, 2008

I just received a strangely coincidental email from Jerry regarding life insurance after heart surgery.

Jerry’s question reads, “I am wondering if you know of the difficulties of getting a term life insurance after heart surgery.  I tried to increase the policy I had and was immediately turned down due to my history of heart valve replacement surgery. I would think that I am healthier today than I was four months ago since my bicuspid aortic heart valve has been replaced via the Ross Procedure. And, I have very little risk factors: low cholesterol, within suggested weight, no other disease, never smoked. Have you encountered this before? Or, do you know of any friendly insurance companies?”



“Why does Adam consider Jerry’s email a strange coincidence?” you may be wondering.

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True or False: Mitral Valve Replacements Have Only Two Leaflets

By Adam Pick on December 22, 2008

Are you ready for some interesting trivia about heart valve replacement devices?

The mitral valve is the only human heart valve that is bicuspid. Bicuspid means the valve has only two leaflets. Alternatively, each of the other heart valves (aortic, pulmonary, tricuspid) have three distinct valve leaflets – also known as heart valve flaps. Please see the top-side view of the human heart diagram below.



In light of this information, my true/false quiz to you is, “Mitral valve replacements have only two leaflets to best mimic the genetic and evolutionary design of the mitral valve.”

So… What do you think? Is that statement true or false?

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Big, Big, Big Boomer Growth Expected For Heart Valve Replacement Industry

By Adam Pick on December 22, 2008

You don’t have to be Warren Buffet to know that investments in heart valve companies may pay off big time in the future.



The wants and needs of the Baby Boomers have triggered almost every financial trend since World War II. Don’t believe me? Consider the Baby Boomers’ impact on the popularity of select automobiles.

In the 1960s, as the Baby Boomers started turning 16, millions of drivers licenses were issued. The Baby Boomers wanted fast, sporty cars. Thus, the wild success of the Ford Mustang.

Then, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Baby Boomers had lots and lots of children. Lee Iacocca realized the Baby Boomers’ need for bigger, more convenient cars. Thus, the ridiculous success of the Chrysler Minivan.



Now, it’s all about health care for the 76 million Americans known as the “Baby Boomers”. When you consider the size of this market and the rampant surge in heart disease, it makes complete sense that the rate of heart valve surgery is going to soar during the next twenty years.

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Off-Topic: Morning Madness At Costco

By Adam Pick on December 22, 2008

With the recession lingering, I’m doing my best to save, save, save money this holiday season.

That said, I went to Costco fifteen minutes before it opened on Super Saturday. My strategic thought was, “Go early Adam! You’ll be the first one there with pristine dibs on all the goodies.”

It turns out that my brilliant idea, was… ummm…. not so brilliant.  When I drove up to the bulk superstore, my immediate thought was, “Yikes!”



As you can see in the picture above, I’m no genius.

I waited in a line of a few hundred, Super Saturday shoppers just to get into the store. I couldn’t believe it. By the time I made it to the register, the check-out lines were already 7-to-8 shopping carts deep.

Next time…. Amazon!

Keep on tickin!


Happy 3rd Anniversary To… Me!

By Adam Pick on December 21, 2008

It’s almost impossible to think that exactly three years ago today…

At this precise moment in time… 10:08am.

I was laying on an operating table having my aortic heart valve replaced.




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Shelby Praises Dr. John Randolph and Dr. Ron Elkins, Oklahoma Heart Surgeons

By Adam Pick on December 18, 2008

There is ab-sooooooooo-lute-ly nothing better than opening my inbox and reading these types of emails… Thanks Shelby!

Hi Adam,

Seven years ago I was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve, which was stenoic with regurgitation.  I have had annual ultrasounds since then. In August of this year, I discovered that it was time for a valve job.  I am a 40 year old male, in excellent condition. My doctor and I decided on a Ross Procedure.  On November 13, I had my surgery with Drs. John Randolph and Dr. Ron Elkins at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


Ross Procedure Patient, Shelby Hudgens
Shelby With Wife Sarah (Ross Procedure Patient)


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Trivia: Do Unicuspid Aortic Heart Valves Really Exist?

By Adam Pick on December 18, 2008

One of the most common, congenital heart valve disorders is a bicuspid aortic valve. Patients born with a bicuspid aortic valve have only two leaflets. Normal aortic valves have three leaflets. Ultimately, this can significantly compromise blood flow through the heart and body as the valve tissue degenerates (stenosis, regurgitation).

Earlier today, I received an email from Nikki. I perked up in my chair as I read her email about a unicuspid aortic heart valve.

Nikki writes to me, “Hi Adam – I am trying to find out more about my 2-year old heart’s condition when I came across your site. He has been diagnosed to have a unicuspid aortic heart valve. At what age will this start to effect him? Do you have any additional info on this? Greetings from Cape Town, South Africa! Nikki (Mom)”


Picture Of Unicuspid Heart Valves
Unicuspid Aortic Valves – Calcified and Narrowed


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“Will I Be Glued Or Stapled After Heart Surgery?” Asks Jill

By Adam Pick on December 16, 2008

I just received a curious email from Jill. She writes, “Hi Adam – After several years of waiting and waiting, I’m finally going in for valve replacement due to severe regurgitation. Quick Question: Will I be glued or stapled after the sternum is wired? I’ve heard it can go either way. Any thoughts?”

Jill’s question just brought back a very interesting memory for me…  I was in the intensive care unit after my aortic valve replacement surgery. The obstructive vent tube had just been removed from my throat. I was woozy (from the anesthesia) but conscious. My eyes sluggishly opened for the first time in six hours. I remember seeing my dad and my wife. Then, I looked down at my chest and thought, “Huh? Is something wrong? I don’t see any stitches on my scar.”

Shortly thereafter, I learned that my surgeon used a special type of glue to seal the incision after my median sternotomy. As you can see below, there are no stitches or staples on my main, 8-inch incision.


Glued Incision After Heart Surgery
My Glued Incision – Shortly After Surgery


However, you should know, this is not always the case. Many surgeons still use staples.

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Mayor David Dinkins Had Heart Valve Replacement Surgery in 2008

By Adam Pick on December 16, 2008

Former New York Mayor David Dinkins joined the growing list of public figures requiring heart valve replacement surgery. According to reports, Mayor Dinkins is recovering in a Manhattan hospital following valve replacement surgery.

David Dinkins, New York’s first African-American mayor, is a cardiac patient at New York Presbyterian Weill-Cornell Medical Center.


David Dinkins - Former Mayor Recoverinig From Heart Valve Replacement Surgery


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Baby Pick Update: Our Boy In The Womb

By Adam Pick on December 16, 2008

Last week, Robyn (my pregnant wife) and I experienced something incredible…

A 4D ultrasound of our developing baby boy.

At times, I laughed. At times, I was close to tears.

It was amazing to see our little boy in the womb. He was soooo cute. Here you can see his face. One hand is under his chin and the other hand is holding his ear.



We could be wrong but we think Baby Pick might have Robyn’s nose and my lips. Yes, I know it’s a early (23 weeks) to be assigning traits to the little boy, but we’re just so excited to officially meet him in April.

Again, thank you for all of your wonderful emails and phone calls regarding our first pregnancy.

Keep on tickin!

Ken Suggests Echocardiogram Alternatives For Valve Disease Diagnosis

By Adam Pick on December 10, 2008

As you may know, many patients and caregivers stress the importance of getting a second opinion prior to surgery. Without a doubt, second opinions are a critical step for validating or challenging a primary diagnosis of valvular diseases including mitral regurgitation and aortic stenosis.

Today, I received an email from Ken that stressed a very interesting element of his own, second opinion. As you can read below, Ken’s surgeon performed some additional tests which led Ken to question whether-or-not echocardiograms are the most effective test for detecting valvular disease. Here is what Ken writes:

Dear Adam,

I almost was going under the knife for aortic valve replacement (AVR) until my doctor friend found an inconsistency in the cardiologist’s report. The surgeon then requested a CAT Angiogram.

Apparently, for athletic patients, echocardiogram readings are not that great. Needless to say, the CAT showed a SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE in my aortic root dilation.



According to this new test… SURGERY IS NOT NEEDED AT THIS TIME!!! Please suggest to your readers that a CAT or MRI might offer additional information for proper diagnosis.

At times, as in my case, echocardiograms may not be the most reliable test for valve disease diagnosis.

Thanks for your ear, your blog and your heart valve surgery book!


Wanna See My High-Tech Distribution Center?

By Adam Pick on December 8, 2008

Earlier today, I received an email from Geraldine that reads, “Adam – I can’t believe it. Your book has already arrived. I ordered it just yesterday. Thanks so much for the quick delivery. I can’t wait to read it as my aortic valve will be replaced next Tuesday. By the way, who handles the distribution of your book?”

First off, my thoughts and prayers are with Geraldine. After learning who her surgeon was, I know she is going to do just great with a new mechanical aortic valve.

Second, I had to smile and chuckle after reading Geraldine’s question, “Who handles your distribution?”

Why? Well… If you knew how my book was packaged and distributed, you might laugh too. Here’s how distribution is handled:


Heart Surgery Book By Adam Pick - Distribution Center


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Nurse Julie Asks About Aortic Valve Surgery, Symptoms And Female Scars For Her Daughter

By Adam Pick on December 4, 2008

Something wonderful comes over me when I receive a thoughtful email from a loving caregiver.

Since I was/am an aortic and pulmonary valve replacement patient, I can directly relate to the fear, uncertainty and doubt that caregivers encounter as they collect information on behalf of their family and friends.



So you know… Sometimes I can email back-and-forth up to 30 times with nervous caregivers as their loved ones prepare and recover from heart valve repair and/or heat valve replacement.

That said, I thought you might like to read a recent email exchange between Julie and myself. Julie’s daughter has an aortic aneurysm and a leaky aortic valve. Here is what she writes:

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Does Mitral Valve Prolapse Impact Men And Women Differently?

By Adam Pick on December 4, 2008

I was just reading the Annals of Internal Medicine when I came across an interesting article about mitral valve prolapse and its impact upon men and women. The summary (below) is from a report titled “Sex Differences in Morphology and Outcomes of Mitral Valve Prolapse”.


Mitral Valve Prolapse - Women, Men Impact


Here are the key findings from the report:

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“Will My Husband’s Heart Valve Click?” Asks Jodi

By Adam Pick on November 29, 2008

Selecting a mechanical or bioprosthetic heart valve replacement prior to surgery is not easy. There are pros and cons to both types of valve replacement devices. On that note, Jodi just emailed me about one side effect of aortic mechanical valve replacements… The clicking noise.

Jodi writes, “Hi Adam! My husband has aortic valve insufficiency and will need the valve replaced in the near future. We have been seeing his cardiologist every 6 months for 3 years. The cardiologist has recommended that my husband, who is 48 years old, get a mechanical aortic valve. On Friday, when we were in the doctor’s office, we heard for the first time that you can hear the “click” noise of the valve. He has never mentioned that to us before and we are not too excited about that. Can you hear really hear the valve click inside the heart? Does your valve click? –Thanks, Jodi”



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Brian Drives Past Cardiac Depression And Heart Palpitations

By Adam Pick on November 28, 2008

There is nothing better than receiving inspirational, patient success stories from my readers.

This morning I opened an email from Brian. As you may recall, Brian experienced cardiac depression following his aortic valve repair earlier this year. As Brian previously wrote to me, “In my opinion, recovery from heart surgery is way worse than the operation.”


Brian, After Aortic Valve Surgery, Holding A Pain Scale Hand
Brian – Holding His Pain Scale


Well… It is now several months later and Brian has a very different perspective to share. Here is Brian’s update:

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True or False: The Cleveland Clinic Performs Over 10,000 Heart Valve Procedures Each Year For Mitral Regurgitation

By Adam Pick on November 28, 2008

Well… What do you think?

Is it true that over 10,000 heart valve procedures are performed each year at The Cleveland Clinic for disorders including mitral valve regurgitation?



According to its website, The Cleveland Clinic continues to perform the largest number of valve procedures in the United States. In 2006, Cleveland Clinic surgeons performed 2,127 valve procedures — 1,524 primary operations and 603 reoperations.

That said, the answer to this question is false. Sorry if you missed it… I’ll be posting another True/False question shortly.

Keep on tickin!

Happy Thanksgiving! (Plus, Fun Turkey Cartoons)

By Adam Pick on November 26, 2008

There is no doubt in my mind… Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

Yes, I love the food. Yes, I love the four-day weekend. Yes, I love being surrounded by family and friends. However, it is the spirit of this holiday that resonates most with me.

I consider myself a very, very, very lucky person after my heart valve surgery. That said, Robyn (my wife) and I have A LOT to be thankful for. To stop and take an entire day to celebrate that thankfulness is beyond appropriate… It is necessary.



On Thursday, when my family sits down to eat, we will go around the dinner table and share what we are thankful for. Of the many things I will offer thanks for is… YOU!

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