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  • aortic aneurysm repair and stroke prevention?

    Hi everyone......the recent death of actor Bill Paxton has been on my mind. I don't think he was getting an aneurysm repaired, I think it was an aortic valve repair. But he suffered a fatal stroke right after the surgery. This has gotten me quite concerned. After all, he was a wealthy successful actor and would have had access to the best medical care I would assume. I will need surgery at some point to repair a 4.4 cm aneurysm on my ascending aorta. Has anyone heard of any advances made by surgeons as far as trying to prevent stroke during or after surgery? I'd love to be told that the risk of stroke can be totally eliminated. My dad is a quadriplegic from a series of strokes he suffered due to high blood pressure that was never treated. I don't want to end up like him because of heart surgery. My plan is to go to Cleveland Clinic for the surgery. Thanks to all of you for any light you can shed on this. As if aortic aneurysm repair surgery wasn't scary enough, fear of a stroke almost seems worse.

  • #2
    It's very sad that Bill Paxton did not make it through surgery, and my thoughts are with his family. I believe complications like this are quite rare these days, but can happen and we should not take for granted how major this type of surgery is. I too am in the waiting room as are many others, thanks to modern medicine most will make it through but you can not give a total guarantee of success with major surgery. Many people on here have successful stories which gives me hope for the future but now and then you hear a sad story which is a reality check and makes you realise nothing is guaranteed. Don't worry too much until your time comes,I used to and got depressed now I just don't think about it atall until I go for an appointment.

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    • #3
      Thanks for your reply Richie Rich. I get depressed everytime I think about surgery also. Reading about Bill Paxton sent a lightening bolt of dread through my body. I'm planning to participate in an online Q & A session with surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic tomorrow who will be talking about aortic surgery. I'm going to pose this question about stroke prevention. I will share what I learn with everyone here on this site.

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      • #4
        I wasn't aware that's how he died. As they say there are no guarantees but the odds are relatively low. By low I mean 1 to 2%. That sounds low but the negative side of me was thinking on the day of my surgery that there was a 1 in 50 chance that by the end of the day I'll be gone or permanently 'damaged' in some way. Having said that I had my aortic valve repaired in February 2015 and it went very well and had no major complications.

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        • #5
          I greatly admired Bill Paxton. When his death was first announced as a complication of surgery, I had an inkling is was OHS, don't ask me why. Today I learned that inkling was correct and my first thoughts were for those in the waiting room and how this news might affect their concerns. I made it to the other side but I remember the risk of stroke being my greatest fear. I take that back...my greatest fear was surviving a stroke and having to fight to recover. I prefer death to that.

          I have a tissue valve valve and will face a second surgery at some point. My fears will be the same and I'll address them the way I did on September 30, 2015. I will remind myself that the risk of death as a result of OHS is not as great as the risk of death without it. I will prepare as best as I can and trust that the surgical team will see me through.

          Keep reading this forum. You will find strength in the stories of those who have made this jounney.
          BAV, severe aortic stenosis replaced and single bypass done 9/30/15 by Dr. Joseph Coselli, CHI St. Luke's Hospital, Houston. Clinical trial Edwards Rapid Deployment Intuity (tissue) Valve. Cardiologist is Dr. Jose Diez, Baylor Clinic.
          Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
          Dalai Lama

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          • #6
            I've been following the Bill Paxton story and more information has been released. His surgery was on Feb 11 and he died on Feb 25. The articles I read initially said his heart condition was due to Rheumatic fever as a child. The latest articles say bicuspid aortic valve. He had the surgery to replace the valve and repair an aortic aneurysm. He should have been up walking and out of the hospital in around 5 days. We will probably not know all the details. What were his complications that are mentioned? And just because he was possibly wealthy doesn't mean he had the best medical care. So I wouldn't jump to conclusions without the complete details.

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            • #7
              I had not heard he died, he was a good actor and appeared in so many good movies. Very sad.

              As was already stated, the odds of fatal complications are low, 1-2% for healthy people, but there are risks with any surgery. While some Dr's/hospitals definitely have lower rates of complications than others, none are 0% risk. My suggestion is to go with a good Dr/Hospital and focus less on the people that had complications and more on the many more people that had successful surgeries.
              At age 51 diagnosed with Bicuspid Aortic Valve and Aortic Aneurysm (root 5.0cm, ascending 5.1cm)
              Valve sparing surgery performed May 2013, Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, AZ

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              • #8
                I participated in an online chat session through Cleveland Clinic's website today and asked this question about stroke prevention during and after heart surgery. Unfortunately, they did not get to my question. But additional questions from this session will be answered and posted on their website as a transcript in 2 weeks, so I'm going to check then to see if my question was answered and share with you all whatever I find out. I appreciate all of your responses to my post on this. You all make some great points and I appreciate the words of encouragement. I don't know what I'd do without this website. There are days while here in the waiting room that I feel like the walls are closing in on me and the fear gets to me.

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                • #9
                  In September 2015 I had surgery to repair a 5.2 cm aortic aneurysm, however my bicuspid valve was spared. By that December I was downhill skiing at 12,000 feet in Colorado. A little over a year later I'm bench pressing 190 pounds and feeling great. Yes my body responds to stress differently. My heart rate is higher than it used to be, but fundamentally I'm not that limited.

                  My point in telling you this is that life can be pretty normal afterwards - its not easy, at all, but its possible - however fear can completely demolish you. Its one foot in front of the other, both in terms of rebuilding your body (which can happen at any age), and processing the trauma and fear that comes with these procedures.

                  Everyone is different - but I really encourage you to stay present with what you can control, and not live in fear of what might happen.

                  See my talk about my experience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdxYFPfsBRQ&feature=youtu.be

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                  • #10
                    Common practice for heart surgery to prevent strokes- DHCA - Deep Hypothermic Circulatory Arrest- worked for me and many others.
                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_h...ulatory_arrest
                    March 18, 2013- at age 57- "Mechanical Composite Root Replacement and Aggressive Hemi-arch Reconstruction". 25mm On-X Aortic Valve with an attached 34 mm Valsalva Aortic Graft and a 24mm Transverse Aortic Arch Graft- Dr. Joseph E. Bavaria. University of Pennsylvania Hospital. (HUP) Dream On....On to the Heart Of the Sunrise"-YES [URL]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5jGG4sH2Cc[/URL]

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by dangerousmotto View Post
                      however fear can completely demolish you. Its one foot in front of the other, both in terms of rebuilding your body (which can happen at any age), and processing the trauma and fear that comes with these procedures.
                      Thank you dangerousmotto , as I'm mentally preparing for the possibility of a 2nd OHS this was good for me to read, helped re-ground me. The mental part can be as difficult as the physical.

                      My first OHS was flawless and a textbook recovery. I was walking 5 miles/day after a week, went on to do all of the crazy things I love (dirt bike riding and skiing) without any complications. Hoping for a repeat performance!

                      Phil
                      Phil. Aortic Valve (Edwards 23 mm 3000TFX) and Aortic Root Replacement 4.21.09, St. Mary's Hospital, Reno, NV. Surgeon: Dr. Roumanas

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                      • #12
                        I actually had a stroke 4 months after my surgery- while they believe it was most likely related to my surgery they have have no real evidence relating it. I got a tissue valve so was not on blood thinners other than aspirin, although now of course I'm on warfarin. By the grace of God, I have recovered physically 100% from my stroke and 95% mentally (memory and focus are not as good). Unfortunately I don't have any real wisdom to share here other than that I have been through this and although I would not wish it would not wish it on anyone, I thankfully made it through. At some point I will have to have another surgery and at that point I will surely be doing additional research on stroke prevention related to surgery (I guess I naively thought that being young at the time of my surgery (27) that it wouldn't happen to me....). One thing I have learned from this experience though, is that once you have done everything you can, you sometimes have to let these things go and trust. Fear and anxiety don't make the risk any less, they just take away from your life now... something I have learned the hard way over the past year and a half.

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                        • #13
                          it could convincingly be argued that everything has an element of risk. We read about people getting killed at the wheel of a car with alarming frequency, yet we continue to drive ourselves around without getting in too much of a panic.
                          I, too, felt a cold stab of fear when I heard about Bill Paxton, but, realistically I am also aware that without knowing all the facts it's futile to try to relate his situation to my own

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                          • #14
                            So sorry, how long ago was your surgery

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