Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 70

Pain, Driving And Nicole’s Triple Heart Valve Surgery

By Adam Pick on May 22, 2008

This just came in from Nicole after a very, very, very, very complex heart valve surgery.


My husband, Jason, and I recently purchased your book to get a new perspective on our experience. I am five weeks post mitral valve repair, tricuspid valve repair, pulmonary valve replacement and a “maze-type” procedure. Unfortunately, my surgery was complicated by the need for a pacemaker approximately 3 weeks ago. This was not my heart first surgery as I had an atrial septal repair some 25 years prior (I am 28 years old now).

In reading your book, I had some additional questions that maybe you could answer:

1) How long were you actually in pain for? I know you mentioned that 7 weeks out you were still taking vicodin and then you started the cardio rehab. After 5 weeks, I still take 3 Percocets a day and still am in pain.

2) When were you able to resume driving? My doctors had originally told me 6 weeks but I am still in a lot of pain when I turn my head so I couldn’t imagine being able to manipulate a car in any sort of a safe manner.

Continue reading this post »

Stents In Tissue Heart Valve Replacements?

By Adam Pick on May 22, 2008

Ever wonder why a stent is used in many forms of biological heart valve replacements?

I just received a question from Keith that reads, “I will be going in for heart valve replacement next month. I have opted for a tissue valve replacement. My surgeon referenced a pig valve replacement with a stent. What does this mean?”

Good question Keith! A stent is used to support a replacement heart valve when positioned in the heart. Specifically, a stented tissue valve includes a frame (the stent) on which the valve is mounted. Ultimately, the stent supports the leaflet tissue (e.g. mitral valve leaflets) that opens-and-closes as blood flows through the heart.

In many valves, the stent is covered by a fabric ring, known as the sewing ring. The surgeon implants the valve by suturing the sewing ring into the patient’s heart.


Medtronic Heart Valve Replacement With Stent


Above you can see an example of the Medtronic Hancock® II heart valve replacement device which uses a stent.

Alternatively, a stentless valve is often an actual heart valve taken from either a human donor (homograft) or a pig. The Medtronic Freestyle® aortic root bioprosthesis is a stentless valve consisting of the porcine aortic valve and a portion of the pig’s aortic root. This valve contains the “natural” leaflets found in the animal’s original heart valve. A stentless valve is sewn directly into the heart to take the place of the patient’s valve.

I hope this helps explain a little more about stents in heart valve replacements.

Keep on tickin!

More Concern About Blood Transfusion & Blood Banks During Heart Surgery

By Adam Pick on May 13, 2008

In the past, we have discussed blood bank safety and concern about blood transfusions during heart surgery.

The Epoch Times just reported, “Mounting evidence that routinely giving blood transfusions to patients could actually increase their risk of death or other heart surgery complications has prompted calls for medical staff to be more cautious about who they administer transfusions to.”


Blood Bank Safety And Transfusion


The U.K. study of almost 9,000 heart surgery patients between 1996 and 2003 supports this finding, and indicates a six-fold increase in the risk of death after 30 days with a three-fold increase in the risk within one year following surgery. Transfusions were also associated with more infections and higher incidences of stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure. These complications were usually linked to a lack of oxygen to body tissues.

This is important for patients and caregivers to consider because patients typically have the option of donating their own blood (in advance of the operation) or using the hospital blood bank if a transfusion is required during your surgery.

That said, I found this information very interesting.

Keep on tickin!

After Keyhole Heart Valve Surgery By Dr. William Ryan, John Is Home!

By Adam Pick on May 13, 2008

After four opinions regarding his defective mitral valve, John finally had minimally invasive mitral valve repair at the skilled hands of Doctor William Ryan in Texas. Here is John’s latest update:

Dear Adam,

I have contacted you a couple of times about heart valve surgery. I first ordered and read your book – that helped me a lot.

Before that, I had been urged by four doctors to have my mitral valve repaired because of severe mitral valve regurgitation. I finally relented but wanted it to be done by the right surgeon and the right hospital. I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma and wanted minimally invasive surgery that I could not get in Oklahoma.


John Bolling Recovering From Minimally Invasive Mitral Valve Repair


I found Dr. William H. Ryan at The Heart Hospital At Plano Texas and asked you if you had heard of him. You replied that you had heard of a few people (including Doug Atkins and Melissa Causey) receiving heart valve surgery from him all with good results.


Dr. William Ryan - Heart Surgeon, Texas
Dr. William Ryan – John’s Heart Surgery


Dr. Ryan operated on me with the a keyhole surgery on April 29, 2008. I stayed in the hospital for four days. I am now at home recovering. I can not praise Dr. William Ryan enough. The Heart Hospital At Plano is the best. If anyone needs info about Dr. Ryan, please give them my e-mail, I will be happy to provide information. Thank you Adam.


How Do Patients Change — Physically & Mentally — After Open Heart Surgery?

By Adam Pick on May 13, 2008

I just received an interesting question from Mia. Her email reads, “How I am going to change after open heart surgery?”

As we all know, emotions of fear can accompany the unknown. Ultimately, I think it is the unknown of heart surgery that stimulates thoughts like, “How will I be different after my operation?”, “Will my physical abilities change after heart surgery?” and “Will I experience mental changes after bypass- like pumphead?”

That said, I have to be honest with you and every other person who reads this blog. In my opinion, there is no single response that encapsulates the potential changes that patients face as they experience open heart surgery.

After my experiences with aortic valve replacement procedures, I will be the first to share with you that the recovery can be difficult – full of daily changes, weekly changes and monthly changes. However, there are many patients, that experience no relative, long-term changes after open heart surgery.
Continue reading this post »

Before & After: Mitral Valve Repair Surgery Pictures

By Adam Pick on May 13, 2008

This deserves a “Wow!”

I could ramble on about how neat this is… Instead, I’ll simply let Geoff explain. Here is Geoff’s email:

Hi Adam,

I am home from my surgery!!

The mitral valve repair was performed last Tuesday morning. I left Duke Medical Center, five days later, on Saturday morning at 9:45 am!

I am fairly weak and somewhat sore. But, overall I am doing great. I spent the first night after heart surgery in the intensive care unit (ICU). The breathing tube and TEE were removed in the first few hours after surgery. I had tubes coming out of me from many places – an IV in my neck, left arm artery, left arm near elbow and right arm.


Picture Of Diseased Mitral Valve Before Heart Valve Repair
Geoff’s Diseased Mitral Valve Before Surgery


I can’t say enough good things about the staff at Duke Medical Center. My surgeon, Doctor Donald Glower, was able to repair the valve so that there was 0% mitral regurgitation. If you are interested, I have attached the before and after pics. (To learn more about mitral regurgitation, click here.)


Patient Mitral Valve After Heart Valve Repair Surgery
Geoff’s Mitral Valve After Heart Valve Repair – 0% Regurgitation


Thank you for your heart valve book, and all the blog members, for their stories and insight. Heart surgery truly is an emotional journey. My fiancee, Lisa, and I are very happy to be through it.

Thanks… Geoff

Remember, No Coffee After Heart Surgery!

By Adam Pick on May 11, 2008

For all the Starbucks fans out there needing heart valve surgery, I have some difficult news to share with you.

Brace yourself… Here it is:

“Coffee is not recommended right after any form of cardiac surgery, including heart valve surgery.”


Do Not Drink Coffee After Heart Surgery


Yes, I know. That’s a tough one. I can personally relate to what you might be going through right now. I remember thinking, “WHAT? NO COFFEE!” as I was discharged from USC Medical Center after my aortic valve surgery. (Actually, it wasn’t that dramatic.)

FYI, I typically start everyday with some form of hot caffeine drink – coffee or chai tea. (Did you know 90% of adults in North America drink at least one caffeine-enhanced drink every day? And, did you know that caffeine was discovered by a German chemist in 1819?)

Anyways, after cardiac surgery it is highly advisable to let your central nervous system (and heart rate) not react to artificial stimulants, like the caffeine in coffee.

Don’t worry though… It’s not permanent. My cardiologist gave me the green-light to start drinking coffee a few weeks after my aortic valve replacement.

Keep on tickin!

Patient Update: Geoff On Heart Surgery Cost & Health Insurance

By Adam Pick on May 1, 2008

One set of recurring questions I receive from patients and caregivers relate to the costs of heart valve surgery and bypass operations. The questions typically go something like, “How much does a heart surgery cost?” or “How much does open heart surgery cost in the USA versus India?” or “How much will my insurance cover – including all the hospital costs, surgeon fees and anesthesia fees?”

This morning, I received an interesting email Geoff (pictured below with his fiancee). In preparing for his mitral valve replacement surgery, Jeff researched these topics and learned some interesting information. That said, I thought you might like to read the note Geoff sent me.


Geoff Beale And His Fiancee


Continue reading this post »

Getting In-And-Out Of Bed… Some Ouch!

By Adam Pick on April 29, 2008

I just received an interesting question from Elias. It reads, “Dear Adam – I am scheduled for aortic valve surgery (via the Ross Procedure) May 12, in New York City. My wife wants to know if I will be able to get in-and-out of the bed by myself when I get home. My surgeon claims this should not be a problem. I am 60 years old and in good health. Please reply. Thank you, Elias”

Elias raises a great question. Why? Well, let me be the first to tell you that getting in-and-out of bed following heart valve surgery can be a bit painful. I’ve written about this in my book and in prior blogs. That said, here was my direct response to Elias (sent earlier today).

Hi Elias,

Nice to meet you.

Every patient case is different. But, given what you have told me, it sounds like you will be able to get in-and-out of bed by yourself when you return home from the hospital.

In fact, you will probably be encouraged to get in-and-out of bed by yourself while in the hospital. So you know, I got out of bed myself on the second day in the hospital.

One other thought for you to consider… Some patients use recliners after heart surgery to minimize the pain.

Let me know if you have any other questions!

Keep on tickin!

After Cancer and Heart Valve Surgery, Sara Recovers With Lucyfur

By Adam Pick on April 29, 2008

First, she had cancer as a child. After chemotherapy and radiation, she won that battle.

Years later, Sara learned that she needed mitral valve replacement procedure. After a minimally invasive surgery that was filled with minor heart surgery complications, she is now recovering alongside Lucyfur Ladyhawk, her horse.

This is Sara’s story…


Sara - Cancer and Heart Valve Surgery Patient With Her Horse Lucy


Continue reading this post »

Great Mitral Valve Prolapse Diagram For Dave

By Adam Pick on April 29, 2008

I just received a follow-up question from Dave regarding my earlier blog about heart valve prolapse. The question reads, “Do you have a better mitral valve prolapse diagram? I still don’t understand the physical problems with a prolapse.”

Thanks for the question Dave! To help you, I just searched the web and found a pretty good diagram that illustrates the key problem with a mitral valve prolapse. Here it is:


Prolapsed Mitral Valve Diagram


As you can see above, the valve leaflets do not seal properly (right image) which results in mitral regurgitation (left image) and could lead to heart valve leakage symptoms.

If you would like to see more images of the heart – simply click anatomy of the heart or anatomy of the heart valves.

I hope that helps!

Keep on tickin!

Stop And Smell My Roses

By Adam Pick on April 28, 2008

This is slightly off-topic but…

Since my aortic valve replacement operation, I have slowed down a bit. (I don’t mean that I have physically slowed down. Nope. I’m still exercising about five times a week.)

The slow down I’m referring to is my enhanced ability to better appreciate all that life has to offer – especially my family and friends. I believe the most fitting cliche for this thought process is simply, “Stop and smell the roses.”



Well… Guess what?

I decided to take the cliche literally.

When Robyn (my wife) and I moved into our new house, I decided to become our gardener and tend to the newly planted roses in the front yard. We have white, red, purple, orange and pink roses.

Although it is spring here in Los Angeles, it feels like summer. Yesterday, it reached over 90 degrees. As a result of the great weather, our roses are going into full bloom. I thought you might like to see some pictures. So, I posted them in this blog.




Come to think of it, I am heading outside right now to cut a few roses for Robyn. She is getting home late from work tonight. So, I am going to make us some dinner and the roses will be a nice touch for the dinner table.

Keep on tickin! And, keep on smelling your roses!

After Allergic Reaction, Jeff’s Heart Surgery Recovery Is Filled With Walks

By Adam Pick on April 27, 2008

Over the past few weeks, I have received two emails from heart surgery patients which experienced interesting, allergic reactions while in the hospital during their valve replacement surgeries. As you will read below, Jeff had an allergic reaction specific to the adhesives used in the surgical patches.

Here is Jeff’s account of the situation:

Hi Adam,

Thanks for writing. I did get a lot of useful support and information from you book, and do appreciate your concerns and interest.


Jeff Ayres After Heart Valve Surgery


Continue reading this post »

In Memory Of Connie Stone (1959 – 2004), Our Prayers Are With You

By Adam Pick on April 26, 2008

This is a tough moment.

I just learned that one of my readers, Connie Stone, did not make it through her mitral valve replacement surgery. Her husband, Mike, shared with me that there were heart surgery complications during her operation – specifically uncontrollable bleeding. Connie was having her second, heart valve surgery to replace a diseased mitral valve. Connie had previously had an aortic valve replacement twenty seven years ago.

Connie was 49 years old when she passed on April 24, 2008.

My thoughts and prayers are with Connie’s husband Mike and the entire Stone family.

G.I. Bill’s Heart Valve Replacement Selection – Three Weeks And Counting

By Adam Pick on April 19, 2008

Selecting the right heart valve replacement is not and should not be easy to do. There are many factors that need to be considered including your age, your lifestyle, your overall health, your like / dislike of ongoing drug monitoring.

G.I. Bill is getting ready for aortic valve replacement surgery due to aortic valve stenosis. While his surgery is three weeks away, he is still trying to determine the best valve replacement type (mechanical valve or tissue and biological valves) for him.


Bill Prepares For Aortic Valve Replacement Surgery

Continue reading this post »

Sheep Heart Valve Replacement Created In Lab?

By Adam Pick on April 19, 2008

As we have already discussed, there is much interest in stem cells and heart valve replacements these days. Here’s an interesting report about heart valve tissue generation in sheep.

A Wake Forest University researcher has successfully created eighteen types of tissue, including a sheep heart valve, in his laboratory.

Dr. Anthony Atala, who is studying the science behind growing new organs, uses cells in a laboratory and an ink-jet printer for the purpose.


Sheep Heart Valve Made At Wake Forest Lab


“When people ask me ‘what do you do,’ we grow tissues and organs. We are making body parts that we can implant right back into patients,” the Environmental News Network quoted him as telling CBS. He believes that soon researchers will start growing organs like human hearts in laboratories from a patient’s own cells, doing away with the need for organ donors. Atala even hopes that the injection of stem cells will facilitate the healing of damaged organs internally, reducing the need for open-heart surgery and other invasive procedures.

Keep on tickin!

Neil Gets A Very Interesting Second Opinion Before Heart Valve Surgery

By Adam Pick on April 16, 2008

If there is one question I alllllllllllllllll-ways ask patients preparing for heart valve surgery, it is the following, “Did you get a second opinion?”

I can not emphasize this enough.

Recently, I had a discussion with Neil (a forty eight year old husband, father and very smart businessman from the East Coast). As our discussion began, Neil jumped right to the topic of valve selection – mechanical versus tissue.

I said, “HOOOOOLLLLD ON!!! Did you get a second opinion?”

Neil said, “Ummm. No… My cardiologist is one of the best around!”

I said cautiously, “Hmmm. Okay… But it might be worth it to get some extra feedback.”


Second Opinion - Heart Surgery


Guess what?

Neil took my advice. He got a second opinion.

Another… Guess what?

The second cardiologist noticed something different from the primary cardiologist. Now, Neil may delay his heart valve replacement surgery AND he may be able to have an aortic valve repair instead of a valve replacement!!!

So you know, this does not always happen. In my case, my second opinion completely agreed with my cardiologist. (In fact, Dr. Chaikin accelerated the timing of my surgery.) However, knowing that both cardiologists agreed on my aortic stenosis diagnosis put my mind at ease.

Remember, as the graph above shows, about 35% of patients do not get second opinions. Please do not be one of them!

Keep on tickin!

Guest Blog: Lil’ Taylor’s Heart-Warming Tale

By Adam Pick on April 16, 2008

Again, I find myself touched by another heart surgery success story. Last week it was eighty-three year old John DeFalco that inspired me after his aortic valve replacement operation. This week, it is all about Taylor, a two-year old with that needed cardiac bypass surgery.

Her mother, Michelle, tells the story best…


Taylor - Two Year Old After Pediatric Cardiac Surgery


Dear Adam,

My daughter was 18 months old and had ASD repair. There is potential she may need a valve replacement. After surgery, July 5, 2006, she had a small valve leak. As of Fall of 2007 it is a moderate leak, but no heart enlargement.

Continue reading this post »

That Unexpected “Full Monty” Body Hair Shave

By Adam Pick on April 14, 2008

Looking back on my aortic valve replacement procedure, I remember several, distinct moments of physical and mental confusion. I might even consider that confusion as “dislocating” considering the process of having heart surgery is so foreign to regular, every-day life.

Sometimes, that dislocation evolved into fear (e.g. cardiac depression). At other times, that dislocation actually transformed into tremendous joy (e.g. taking my first shower after surgery).



One of my “dislocating moments” was entering the pre-operating room. I’ll never forget that final hug with my family after the nurse called my name. I’ll never forget the nervous tremors in my hands as I pushed the door open.

Continue reading this post »

Joanne’s Incentive Spirometer Trick

By Adam Pick on April 12, 2008

If anyone knows that laughter is the best medicine, it might just be Joanne Harris.

Over the past few months, Joanne and I have emailed back and forth regarding her heart valve surgery. Joanne had a mitral valve repair with maze procedure. She suffered from mitral valve regurgitation (leaking heart valve).


Patient, Joanne Harris, Using The Incentive Spriometer After Heart Bypass Surgery


Anyways, I recently received a note from Joanne that really shows her incredible attitude towards her cardiac bypass surgery, her broken sternum recovery and her innovative ways to trick the incentive spirometer used to defend against fluid in her lungs.

Continue reading this post »

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