Charlie Rose Looking Good After Aortic Valve Replacement

CBS This Morning anchor Charlie Rose is recovering well after undergoing heart surgery less than two weeks ago. The 75-year-old journalist underwent an aortic valve replacement. Co-host and Oprah best friend, Gayle King went to visit Rose and is very impressed by his progress. King took to Instagram to say:

 “Ding ding ding! How good does @Charlierose look! What heart surgery?”

In early February, Rose had posted this Instagram message, announcing his upcoming surgery.

Almost 15 years ago skilled surgeons replaced my aorta valve with a new replacement valve. It has served me well enabling me to live the vigorous, full, complete life you are all so familiar with. No one loves life more than I do. To continue to live this amazing life so full of challenges and friends, including so many of you in the audience, I have chosen to replace the valve with a new one. The timing is my choice. So tomorrow, I will undergo surgery which will keep me at the hospital for a few days and then resting for a couple of weeks. I look forward to seeing you in March. In the meantime you are in great hands with my remarkable colleagues, Norah and Gayle backed by the best morning team anywhere. I can’t wait to be back completely rested with my heart recharged, my passion for the work ahead purposeful and my joy at life’s pleasures high. Until then, stay close.

A post shared by Charlie Rose (@charlierose) on

Rose is expected to return to CBS This Morning in March.

What is the aortic valve?

The aortic valve is one of four heart valves which help direct the flow of blood through the heart. The aortic valve lies between the muscular left ventricle (the side of the heart which pumps blood to the rest of the body) and the aorta (the body’s main artery out of the heart).

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The valve may need to be repaired or replaced for a variety of reasons, both congenital (since birth) and acquired.  Valves may either too tight (stenosis) or too loose or floppy (regurgitation).  Either problem can cause abnormalities in the way the blood flows through the heart.

If severe enough, valve problems cause symptoms of shortness of breath, fatigue, congestive heart failure, stroke, or even sudden death.

How is valve replacement performed?

It is estimated that more than 85,000 aortic valve replacement procedures are performed in the United States each year.

There are two methods of aortic valve replacement: a traditional open surgical procedure, or the newer, minimally-invasive, endoscopic procedure.

For either procedure, the patient is put under general anesthesia, meaning the patient is unconscious and unable to feel pain.

Open Procedure:

For an open procedure, the surgeon makes a 10-inch-long cut down the center of the chest. The breastbone (sternum) is separated so that the heart can be seen. Most people are connected to a heart-lung bypass machine or bypass pump. The heart is stopped while connected to this machine and does the work of the heart while it is stopped.

For endoscopic procedures, the surgeon makes a 2 to 3-inch cut on the right side of the chest near the breastbone. The muscles in the area are separated to allow a view of the heart. One to four additional holes are made in the chest through which special instruments and a camera are inserted.

If the aortic valve is too damaged,  a new valve will need to be placed.  The surgeon will remove the diseased aortic valve and sew a new one into place. There are two main types of new valves:

valves Mechanical — made of man-made materials, such as titanium or ceramic. These valves last the longest, but the patient will need to take blood-thinning medicine, such as warfarin (Coumadin) or aspirin, for the rest of your life.
Biological — made of human or animal tissue. These valves last 10 to 12 years, but the patient may not need to take blood thinners for life.

Once the new valve is replaced and working properly, the surgeon will:

For the open procedure:

  • Close the heart and take the patient off the heart-lung machine
  • Place catheters (tubes) around the heart to drain fluids that build up.
  • Close the breastbone with stainless steel wires. It takes about 6 weeks for the bone to heal. The wires remain in the body.

The procedure takes 2 to 5 hours.

Endoscopic Procedure

For the endoscopic procedure:

  • Close the small cut to the heart
  • Place catheters (tubes) around the heart to drain fluids that build up.
  • Close the surgical cuts in the muscles and skin

This procedure takes 3 to 6 hours.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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