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Old 08-29-09, 07:24 AM   #1
Sluggo
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Heart valve upgrade: Shimano or Campi?

Looks like I might be in for some surgery to repair or replace a heart valve.

Has anyone out there experienced this? How long is recovery? Will I still be able to ride??
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Old 08-29-09, 07:29 AM   #2
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My mother was down for over 6 months after valve repair, It was open chest operation.

There are less invasive methods, through the rib cage that is not a traumatic.

Ma was 82.
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Old 08-29-09, 08:03 AM   #3
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A guy at work had a cow valve put in - seems to me he was about 3 months of recovery, just how long before he could do strenuous things I can't remember. He does seem to spend more time chewing gum and wondering around in pastures though
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Old 08-29-09, 08:10 AM   #4
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Cutting the sternum is the problem. That takes a while to heal. 6 weeks before I even sat on a bike and then I had to go and buy one of those bouncy things as the rigid offroad was just a bit too tough. 3 months after and I did a 40 mile road ride and haven't stopped gasping up hills ever since.
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Old 08-29-09, 08:48 AM   #5
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If it comes to surgery, be sure to tell both your chest mechanic and especially your physical therapists know you are a cyclist and want to be back riding as soon as possible. Knowing about you helps them do their work well.

Individual results always vary, but I know a guy with a replaced valve who is vastly more athletically active and able after his surgery than for at least a decade before. He had a few mental struggles with the idea of a "foreign" object so vital to his life, but some good physical therapists helped him get through them. He now sees himself as running around, literally running, with an improved heart rather than a repaired one. Though that sounds and is rather simple, the difference between "repaired" and "improved" thinking made all the difference.
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Old 08-29-09, 09:02 AM   #6
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Thanks for the responses.

I am 53, so I hope I recover more quickly than someone who is 82...

From what I read on the internets, cow, pig, and human parts are used, as are mechanical valves. I could just go to the butcher for parts and try to install it myself...

"...I know a guy with a replaced valve who is vastly more athletically active and able after his surgery than for at least a decade before." THAT is what I wanted to hear! I don't know how much of my inability to respond to training for the last several years is from the bad valve and how much of it is just from getting older, but I am hoping that this will make an actual improvement, instead of just fending off deterioration. Stepfam, did you ride better afterwards, or did it just allow you to maintain your health longer?
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Old 08-29-09, 09:47 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Sluggo View Post
Thanks for the responses.

I am 53, so I hope I recover more quickly than someone who is 82...

From what I read on the internets, cow, pig, and human parts are used, as are mechanical valves. I could just go to the butcher for parts and try to install it myself...

"...I know a guy with a replaced valve who is vastly more athletically active and able after his surgery than for at least a decade before." THAT is what I wanted to hear! I don't know how much of my inability to respond to training for the last several years is from the bad valve and how much of it is just from getting older, but I am hoping that this will make an actual improvement, instead of just fending off deterioration. Stepfam, did you ride better afterwards, or did it just allow you to maintain your health longer?
Mine was a bypass- so that is why I warned you about the sternum. When having mine done- 2 others were in for valve replacement. One of them still works for McClaren and see him on TV occasionally in the pit crew. He must be 60 now so only handles spanners.

Before you do any Physical exertion- talk to your doctor or surgeon. Talked to mine and they didn't know what to say. They had never had patients want to get back to ruining their handiwork so soon after- so it was suck it and see. If it hurts- don't do it and get yourself a heart monitor if you don't have one. Won't help a bit on recovery but helps mentally.

Have to admit that I was probably at my fittest for years when I had my problem. But for a few years afterwards I was testing the heart and body. Once I was happy- I was back to my old self.
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Old 08-29-09, 08:44 PM   #8
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My 50 year-old athletic brother had one (plus an aortic root). Let me know if you'd like to get in touch with him. Pig valves last 10 years or so, mechanical valves forever, but you're saddled with having to take coumadin. My brother's fine, and as athletic as ever.
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Old 08-31-09, 10:08 AM   #9
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Thanks for the responses.

From what I read on the internets, cow, pig, and human parts are used, as are mechanical valves. I could just go to the butcher for parts and try to install it myself...
reminds me of that advertisement on TV recently... guy sitting at table with butter knife in hand talking to doc who is giving him instructions on how to do an appendectomy. ... are you sure about this?....

oh and a friend of mine had a valve replacement done last summer. they did not open his chest. just a couple small holes and it was done by robot/remote control. amazing to see him in church within a couple weeks. he was vastly better off after the surgery than before.

good luck. you'll be back riding before you know it.

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Old 08-31-09, 12:05 PM   #10
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Don't limit it to only Shimano and Campagnolo! Remember there's SRAM too.

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Old 08-31-09, 12:08 PM   #11
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Campagnolo can be rebuilt. Shimano is simply tossed.
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Old 08-31-09, 03:59 PM   #12
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Sluggo, you've come to the right place!

I'm 59 and will be 60 in early October. In July of 2007 they replaced my aortic valve, and repaired a resulting aortic anuerism. They also did a procedure called a "maze procedure" to permanently fix a not too troublesome issue with atrial fibrillation.

I never had any symptoms. They discovered a congenitally deformed valve when they were trying to figure out why an otherwise healthy 51 year old was having occassional and thankfully short bouts of afib. They followed the valve until it got to the point it was getting close to needing replacement.

When I was looking into possible surgeons when one of them asked if I had been checked for an aortic aneurism. No one had ever checked. He checked and he was right; I had a very dangerous aortic aneurism.

The aneurism problem isn't all that rare. It is largely dependent on why your valve needs replacing. If it is an aortic valve that is bicuspid rather than tricuspid, there is a statistically higher chance of aneurism being there. If you are unlucky enough to have an aneurism, they'll pick it up during the surgery.

Now, as to the recovery. They told me to stay home from work, even though I work in an office, for 4weeks. The real reason is they don't want you driving while your sternum is healing. I was able to walk as much as I wanted and jogged a little.

At 8 weeks after surgery, they said I could ride the bike again. That was September 5. On New Years day, I did a metric.

So long as you are fit and don't have any other heart issues, your recovery will go better than anything your doctor has ever seen before. They aren't used to seeing open heart sugery patients in the kind of shape many of us here are in. We kind of wreck their curve and they are very cautious with us.

The local cardiologist was so conversative, and still is, that it made me want to scream. The surgeon used to ride, and he understood. He tells me whatever I want to do is fine, just don't lift really heavy weights because it can cause blood pressure to spike. That is related to the aneurism and the fear of another one somewhere else and is not related to the valve.

I got a cow valve and they are telling me that some incredibly high percentage (80+) of the tissue valves are still working at 20 years or something like that. I opted for a tissue valve because I didn't want coumadin. I take no medication at all.

It really isn't that bad. The chest pain is mild so long as you don't push yourself up out of chairs or beds with your upper body. The chest pain never bothered me, even right after surgery.

You'll bounce back quicker than you can imagine.

Good luck!
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Old 08-31-09, 04:01 PM   #13
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By the way, I think they can replace mitral valves without the full sternum cut, but not aortic valves. So the type of valve involved will affect your outcome too.
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Old 08-31-09, 07:43 PM   #14
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Thanks for the details and good news, 67walkon.

I have heard that the replacement tissue valves have an expected life of 10 to 15 years, and I hope to outlast that. Your info is new.

I have an appointment with the surgeon on thursday and will get some more details then.
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Old 03-04-10, 05:00 PM   #15
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I finally did it. A new mechanical aorta valve was installed on 2/17. The surgeon said that my fitness level masked the really bad condition of the old one, and he was excited that he could install a large-size replacement (hotrod oversize valve!). He also said that in the future, the valve would not be the limiting factor in my athletic abilities (I need new excuses now).

I will be off the bike for a couple of months while the sternum heals. I will probably be back in the office week after next (4 weeks after surgery).

Here is the unit. Ooh, titanium and carbon.

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Old 03-04-10, 07:47 PM   #16
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Titanium and carbon! Certainly worth the discomfort, eh?
How long did they let you stay in the hospital, just out of curiosity?
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Old 03-04-10, 08:04 PM   #17
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Heart cath tuesday, surgery wednesday, discharge the following monday.
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Old 03-04-10, 08:10 PM   #18
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That's a pretty long stay by today's standards.........

Have a good rehab/recovery. Back on the road in May!
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Old 03-05-10, 01:36 AM   #19
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You get the shimano if you just want it to work. If you like going in to tinker with it, go for the campy...
Seriously, good luck. My brother and father both have had open chest surgery (heart for my dad, cancer for my brother). Brother just turned 60, doing fine 36 years later. Dad lived nine more years and died of unrelated causes. As for recovery, my dad took awhile, but he was 75. He ultimately did think he'd gotten back to where he started, though.
My brother's case was interesting, because he had some exploratory surg where they didn't crack the chest, and recovered from that very quickly--he made a tour of Asia with a basketball team I think three months later and said he did fine. A year or so later they went in through the sternum and removed some stuff, and it slowed him down for about a year (slowed him down on the basketball court--he could live a normal life after six months or so, as I recall, but he couldn't perform as a high-level athlete for quite awhile). One thing he stressed is to do whatever therapy they assign you. He worked hard at it, because he really wanted to play ball. He's kept in touch with two guys who had the same procedure when he did, and i know at least one of them still feels that he's hampered by the surgery (after 36 years?). Apparently he didn't do the work he should and has adhesions or something. My brother kept playing city league and summer ball until he was in his 50s.
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Old 03-05-10, 07:37 AM   #20
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I don't know how long before you can ride, or get on a bike. There are so many ways they do that, it's hard to say. We had a lady here that had it done and she was out of the hospital in 3 days and walking around like nothing happened. Anyhow good look with the surgery and a speedy recovery.
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Old 03-05-10, 09:49 AM   #21
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You'll be back on the bike in about 4 weeks- but adjust the position to be more upright and miss the Potholes when riding. I presume you will be on Beta blockers and do not suddenly come off them. For the time being you need them. Give it 6 months and talk to the surgeon about coming off them gradually and you will be fine.

But March now- Book the century ride for late september. That will find out it Ti and C.F will enable you to get up the hills faster.
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Old 04-26-10, 09:23 PM   #22
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I don't know if you have had your surgery yet. I have had 3 aortic valve/valve repair surgeries since 2002. It takes about 2.5 -3 months depending on what they do. each surgery increases the healing time due to the scar tissue inside you that they have to remove. I know have a mechanical valve and synthetic Aorta - I do much better aerobically than I did for the 5 years prior to my first surgery. I had a porcine valve the first time but it developed a leak around the edge and they had to go back in.

things to talk to your doctor about - In the long run - you might need coumadin. you will likely end up with a Left Bundle Branch block over time if it is Aortic surgery. Not a big deal, but you should be aware that most folks end up with this. There is also a higher risk of endocarditis in the years following surgery. Make your cardiologist your best friend and don't believe everything the Cardiac Surgeon says. As my cardiologist once said - Cardiac Surgeons are in and out of your life within a week but a Cardiologists is forever......
Good Luck!!
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Old 04-27-10, 08:20 PM   #23
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Hey, my thread came back without me bumping it!

I had my surgery in february. I am recovering well, and I hope this is the only time I have to go through this. I am really glad that I did not get an animal valve that will have to be replaced.

I have been back on the bike for 2 weeks tomorrow. I am getting back to pre-surgery normal, but still feel slow and out of shape (no big surprise there). We are still working on getting the coumadin dose right, but it seems to be converging on a solution. Someone recommended (there it is, it was Stepfam) that I aim for a fall century, and that looks like a good goal.

I had not heard of the left bundle branch thing. I will keep that in mind; so far, I don't seem to have any such problem. But it is becoming clear that you are right about being lifetime buddies with my cardiologist.

Thanks for the good thoughts, and good luck and good health to you.
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Old 04-27-10, 09:21 PM   #24
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I have been back on the bike for 2 weeks tomorrow.
Good for you! Happy you're healing; but I was hoping you were going to choose the DIY route that you mentioned earlier in the thread. I guess we'll never know now whether you could have pulled that off...
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