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Heart surgery is major surgery, even when it’s a minimally-invasive procedure.  After such a major surgery, a person will certainly need lots of rest and relaxation to recover properly.  Although you know your heart was just repaired, it can be hard to exercise patience. Who doesn’t want to get back to their normal routine as soon as possible? Even though you asked the doctor endless post-op questions prior to surgery, you still begin to wonder when you’ll be able to return to your normal daily activities.

Recovery can be hard both physically and mentally.  Your recovery is unique because you are a unique individual. Every patient heals differently and at a different rate.

For the first week post op, you most likely will be in the hospital. You will spend one to two days in the ICU and then be moved to a regular hospital room for the remainder of the week. During your hospital stay you will be walking regularly and gradually increasing physical activity, so you will be able to walk and go up and down stairs before you head home.

Before sending you home, the doctor will give you recovery instructions, such as watching for any signs of infection, incision care, pain management, and post-op side effects. You will still be sore, but may no longer be on pain meds. The doctor will determine how much physical activity you can do, and will encourage lots of rest throughout the day. The doctor may recommend cardiac rehabilitation, as well as permanent lifestyle changes when it comes to diet, physical activities, tobacco usage, and stress management to promote healing and recovery. If something hurts, stop doing it. Focus on performing activities that don’t hurt you.

Around the fourth or fifth week post-op, you will be getting close to being back to your normal activities. You can be back to work, can travel and celebrate a holiday without feeling awful. Although you are still not 100%, you will feel significantly better now.

Looking for a cardiac surgeon to perform your heart valve surgery? This is Dr. Peter Mikhail’s specialty. Dr. Mikhail is a cardiac surgeon based in New Port Richey, FL, and treats patients in Tampa and Clearwater. He is considered one of the foremost authorities and specialists in mitral valve surgery and TAVR. To book a consult, click here or call 727-312-4844.


To be blunt, surgery is scary. Even the toughest of us get nervous before going under the knife.  When on the table, we are literally putting our lives into someone else’s hands. We have the hope that the surgeon will be able to “fix” us, heal us, and make us better. Surgery can become even more scary when it involves the heart. Heart valve surgery is a big-time surgery, so it’s no wonder patients have many questions and concerns about before, during, and after the procedure. With any surgery, there are risks, so it’s best to know as much as possible about the surgery before setting a date.

For this article, we focus on what you, as the patient, can do to help yourself have the best surgery and post-op as possible. Below, we’ve listed some helpful tips and ideas for you to think about and question before having heart valve surgery, including mitral valve surgery, TAVR, and mini-AVR.

  1. Get to know your cardiac surgeon. What is his or her background? Specialty? How many heart valve surgeries has he or she performed? Do your research.
  2. Choose a cardiac surgeon with a specialty in mitral valves and aortic valves.
  3. Look for a cardiac surgeon who performs more than 20 mitral valve or aortic valve surgeries throughout the year.
  4. Look at pictures and testimonials of your doctor’s past patients. Specifically, look at patients’ stories who are like yours.
  5. Ask questions. Ask as many as you want. To ensure you’ll receive all the information you need, jot your questions down. As a patient, you have the right to know what the surgery will entail and what you will have to experience before, during, and after the surgery.
  6. Make a checklist about all the things you will need help with post-surgery. With this list, you’ll be able to ask family and friends ahead of time to help you with everything from running an errand to vacuuming. You don’t want to get stuck doing anything by yourself that could potentially delay your recovery or harm you.
  7. Think about things to bring to the hospital for you to use post-surgery. Such items may include your own pillow, dry shampoo, feminine products, iPad/phone, books, nightgowns, shorts.

Although this is just a brief list, it gives you an idea of some topics to think about when considering or preparing to have heart valve surgery.

If you’re thinking about having mitral valve surgery or TAVR, Dr. Peter Mikhail is a cardiac surgeon who specializes in these surgeries. Dr. Mikhail is based in New Port Richey, FL, and treats patients in Tampa and Clearwater. To book an appointment, click here or call 727-312-4844.




We all know that exercise and physical health go hand-in-hand. But did you know that exercising can help prevent heart disease and stroke, and even help individuals with some minor heart conditions?

The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise — or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise — to improve overall cardiovascular health. For individuals looking to lower their blood pressure or cholesterol levels, the organization recommends 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise three to four times per week.

Aerobic exercises include walking, jogging, swimming, or biking.

Your heart is a muscle, and it gets stronger and healthier if you lead an active lifestyle. The resting heart rate of a person who stays active is slower than a non-active person, because less effort is needed to keep blood pumping. People who don’t exercise are twice as likely to develop heart disease compared to those who stay active.

Exercise promotes weight maintenance and reduction, and can reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol levels in the blood. Those “bad” lipoproteins lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, which narrows vital pathways for blood flow and raises the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Some cardiologists recommend combining short bursts of high-intensity exercise with slightly longer periods of recovery, so that the body becomes more efficient at clearing fat and sugar from the blood. Weight training can also help with heart protection for healthy individuals.

It’s been shown that exercise decreases symptoms of angina and heart failure, and even overweight people who have trouble shedding pounds can still achieve heart benefits with routine physical activity.

Experts also agree that the worst kind of exercise for heart health is “overdoing it” with vigorous physical activity without prior training, such as shoveling snow. The excessive adrenaline that is released throughout the body can lead to a sudden heart attack.

For people with mild-to-moderate mitral valve regurgitation (MVR) without symptoms, regular activity – even if it’s walking – will help heart functions. Using a treadmill with a digital heart monitor is one of the easiest ways to work out while keeping tabs on your pulse.

It’s important to note that people with MVR who are experiencing irregular heart rhythms should be cautious about physical activity, avoid a high-intensity workout, and consult their doctors about what type of exercise is appropriate.

Dr. Peter Mikhail is a cardiac and thoracic surgeon based in New Port Richey, Florida, who treats patients in the Tampa and Clearwater areas. For more information on his practice or to schedule a consultation, visit our Mitral Valve  contact page or call 727-312-4844.



Blood pressure and heart health go hand in hand. Your blood pressure reading reflects two numbers, systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Your systolic pressure measures the pressure of the blood against your artery walls when the heart pumps blood out during a heartbeat, while your diastolic pressure measures this pressure in-between heartbeats when your heart is full of blood. Ideally, your blood pressure should read below 120/80. One in three American adults suffer from high blood pressure.  One thing you can do to keep your blood pressure in check is to eat a balanced diet. Certain foods are known to increase your blood pressure.  We suggest you avoid the following foods or limit them in your diet to keep your blood pressure in a good range:

  1. Soda/sweetened beverages – Sugar-loaded drinks can quickly lead to weight gain; excessive weight on the body can raise a person’s blood pressure.
  2. Processed meats and other foods – Deli meats like turkey or ham are loaded with sodium, which can raise a person’s blood pressure. Lots of packaged foods contain high amounts of sodium, e.g. canned soup, frozen meals, tomato sauces, canned vegetables and bread. These foods have a lot of sodium, because this ingredient is used to preserve the foods.
  3. Baked goods – Cakes, doughnuts, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, pies and more are loaded with sugar, but also contain a lot of saturated and trans fats. Both these “bad” fats are known to increase blood pressure.
  4. Candy – When you eat a piece of candy, you’re basically consuming empty calories and a lot of sugar; candy can spike your sugar levels and can lead to weight gain.
  5. Alcohol – Excessive use of alcohol can lead to weight gain and dehydration both of which can lead to an increase in blood pressure.

Each day, you should aim to keep your sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams; sugar should be limited to 37.5 grams per day for men and 25 grams per day for women. It’s best to avoid or limit the above foods and opt for water, 100 percent fruit juices, fresh meat, fruit, homemade (healthier) desserts, nuts, legumes, vegetables, and whole grains.

If you currently have high blood pressure or heart disease, it’s wise to discuss with your doctor the best meal plan for you. If you suffer from mitral valve disease or aortic valve disease and need surgery, Dr. Peter Mikhail is a cardiac surgeon treating patients in the Tampa, Clearwater and New Port Richey areas of Florida. To book an appointment, click here or call 727-312-4844.



One in four women dies of heart disease in the United States each year; this means about one woman dies every minute of this disease in this country. A new study from researchers in China is suggesting that breastfeeding may lower a woman’s risk of heart disease and stroke. So not only does the baby reap major benefits from breastfeeding, the mother does, as well.

In this study, researchers analyzed around 300,000 women in China. Women who had breastfed were 8 to 10 percent less likely to develop heart disease and stroke compared to mothers who did not breastfeed. Mothers who breastfed for 2 years or more were found to have an 18 percent less chance of developing heart disease compared to women who did not breastfeed. They saw a mother’s risk of these conditions decreased even further (3 to 4 percent) with every additional 6 months of breastfeeding.

Although this particular study cannot prove for certain that breastfeeding caused these women to have a lower risk, it does show that breastfeeding has benefits for the mother when it comes to her cardiovascular health.  Researchers say this lowered risk of heart disease and stroke may be related to a metabolism “reset” that occurs following the pregnancy.  It is hoped that these findings will help encourage more women to breastfeed.

Beyond cardiovascular health, it has been commonly known due to past studies that mothers who breastfeed can experience a lot of health benefits including weight loss, lowered blood pressure, lowered glucose levels, and lowered cholesterol.

Researchers want to conduct further studies on this subject matter with women in other countries to see if they can confirm these findings.

Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends women exclusively breastfeed for the baby’s first six months. After six months, mothers can breastfeed until 12 months while introducing foods into the baby’s daily diet.

Whether you have breastfed or not, as a woman you should pay close attention to your heart health. If you are currently suffering from heart disease and are looking for a cardiac surgeon, Dr. Peter Mikhail specializes in mitral valve surgery and aortic valve surgery in the Tampa, Clearwater, and New Port Richey area. To book an appointment, click here or call 727-312-4844.


Get up, and get moving! Exercise is essential to heart health. However, you don’t have to be overly athletic or a marathon runner to reap the benefits of exercise. According to the American Heart Association, a person can improve his or her overall cardiovascular health by participating in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (or a combination of both) per week. Exercise comes in many different forms, from running and lifting weights to Zumba class and walking. For this article, we focus on the benefits from one particular type of exercise, Yoga.

Yes, yoga. This form of exercise is much more than a bunch of funny-looking body positions. People have been practicing yoga for more than 5,000 years to help rejuvenate the body and help themselves live a longer life. Yoga has been shown to have numerous benefits including helping reduce stress and bring clarity and peace to a person’s mind. Recently, a new study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology said that yoga may help lower a person’s risk for heart disease in the same way as walking or another conventional exercise.

In this study, people of all ages and health conditions saw improvements in their health while participating in yoga. These people lost weight, lowered their blood pressure, and lowered their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels.

Yoga is physical but it also involves a lot of breathing exercises and meditation. These activities can all have positive effects on the heart and body.  Yoga’s impact on muscles and the mind can help control blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and calm the nervous system, which can reduce stress in the body.  Yoga can also help increase a person’s aerobic capacity, and has also been known to help people with atrial fibrillation have fewer episodes.

Yoga classes are available for people of all experience levels. If you have a health condition or aren’t in great shape, a beginner class is a great way to learn all the moves in a slow, controlled way that isn’t intimidating.  Hatha yoga is good for beginners, while Vinyasa yoga is better for those individuals who are more experienced and physically fit. Bikram yoga or Hot yoga, which is yoga in a room with a temperature of more than 105 degrees, is not recommended for people with heart conditions like heart disease.

If you currently have heart disease, talk to your doctor about taking a yoga class. If you’re a candidate for heart valve surgery, Dr. Peter Mikhail performs mitral valve surgery and aortic valve surgery in the cities of Tampa, Clearwater, and New Port Richey of Florida. To book a consult, click here or call 727-312-4844.



Are you a candidate for mitral valve surgery? If so, you probably have a lot of questions. Although surgery on the mitral valve can be minimally-invasive these days, it can still be scary going under the knife for a heart operation. Dr. Peter Mikhail is a cardiac and thoracic surgeon who specializes in treating and operating on patients with mitral valve disease. Below, we share some answers to a few questions you may have if you’re deciding to have this surgery.

Do I need my mitral valve repaired or replaced?
Dr. Peter Mikhail will assess the damage to your valve to determine if he is able to repair the valve or if it’s better to replace it. Through his years of experience, Dr. Mikhail can make an educated, experienced decision on which is the best option for you.

Should I choose a mechanical valve or a biological valve?
This is a decision that will be made between you and the doctor. The doctor will look at your history, symptoms, age, and lifestyle to determine which type is better for your body. Mechanical valves require a person be on blood thinners for the rest of his or her life, so a younger, active person may not choose this option. However, mechanical valves do last longer and don’t succumb to wear and tear like a biological valve would. A biological valve will have to be replaced in 10 years or so; this is something a younger patient will need to consider. Again, this is a decision between you and the surgeon.

What tests do I need before this surgery?
You will have an echocardiogram and/or stress test done to determine if surgery is the right course of action.

How long is mitral valve surgery?

The operation itself takes around 45 minutes, but the entire process (prep, closing, etc.) can take up to four hours.

How long am I in the hospital after this surgery?
After surgery, you will spend one to two days in ICU. After ICU, you will be moved to a regular hospital room for several days. The doctor and other medical professionals will monitor your recovery, vitals, and pain. Recovery can take one to three months.

For more FAQ, click here.

To book a consult with Dr. Peter Mikhail, click here or call 727-312-4844.  Dr. Mikhail specializes in mitral valve surgery and works out of the Tampa, Clearwater, and New Port Richey areas in Florida.


Did you know a painkiller, one that’s probably in your medicine cabinet right now, can increase your risk of heart disease? Scary thought, right? Well, over-the-counter NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) have been proven to increase the risk of heart disease through heart attacks and strokes. Studies have shown a 20 to 50 percent increase in risk of heart attack when using NSAIDs compared to when not using them.

It’s best to take these types of medications in small doses and for a short time so they will not have serious effects on your heart. Don’t become a regular user.

Common NSAIDs you can find in your home include ibuprofen and naproxen, the most common being Advil, Motrin and Aleve. Aspirin is a type of NSAID but not does not increase your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.  All these over-the-counter NSAIDs are used to treat pain and inflammation in the body.

If you currently suffer from any heart condition, you should take NSAIDs with caution, and definitely talk to your doctor about taking them.  For people with heart conditions, NSAIDs can potentially make your conditions worse. You don’t have to stop taking NSAIDs, especially if you’re in a lot of pain, but be mindful of how, when, and why you’re taking them.

Even if you currently don’t have a heart condition, be cautious when taking NSAIDS. If you truly need to take one for pain relief, aim to take the smallest dosage, and not for an extended period.

Studies haven’t proven that NSAIDs cause heart attacks, but some research shows that NSAIDs can increase blood pressure or raise the risk of a blood clot, which can lead to a heart attack.

Even though these NSAIDs are over-the-counter medications, you should be careful with them in the same way you would be with a prescription-level painkiller. Medication is medication, and too much of any kind can do you harm.

If you have heart disease and need surgery on your valves, Dr. Peter Mikhail performs mitral valve surgery and aortic valve surgery in and around Tampa, Clearwater, and New Port Richey, Florida. To book a consult, click here or call 727-312-4844.


A good part of a person’s heart health is dictated by diet. The food we eat can either be our medicine or our poison. Of course, no one has the “perfect” diet. Moderation is key when choosing foods to eat. It is OK to eat some desserts and snack foods on occasion, so long as your diet is full of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and lean proteins as well. Micronutrients are essential for your body to grow and thrive. Since our diets cannot be perfect on a daily basis, it is OK to supplement one’s diet with vitamins, although it is best to discuss taking vitamins and supplements with your doctor.

If you think you may be deficient in a vitamin, get tested. If you are deficient, your doctor will recommend what to do to get your numbers in a normal range. Many vitamins and supplements can be used to manage cardiovascular health and are a good idea to take to keep your heart in a healthy state, whether you have heart valve disease or not. It should always be your goal to work towards having a healthy heart.

Below, we share some of the best vitamins and supplements you can take that your heart will benefit from and to keep heart disease at bay, or to keep your heart from deteriorating further.

Omega-3 (Fish Oil) –  This supplement is great for people who are at risk for heart disease because it helps balance cholesterol and triglycerides.  It also helps slow the buildup of plaque in the arteries and is known to lower blood pressure.

Vitamin D – A Vitamin D deficiency can lead to heart problems, including raising the risk for a heart attack.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) – This supplement produces energy in the mitochondria of cells. It is also an antioxidant that fights off free radicals, and manages blood pressure and cholesterol. It also helps with the health of the arteries and heartbeat.

Magnesium – Magnesium helps support relaxation and dilation of vascular and arterial walls. It also helps move potassium and sodium through cells.

Other vitamins and supplements to take for heart health: Niacin, L-carnitine, and turmeric.

If you currently live with heart disease and are considering heart valve surgery, Dr. Peter Mikhail is a specialist in mitral valve and aortic valve surgery. He is based in New Port Richey, Florida. For more information on valve surgery, click here. To book an appointment with Dr. Mikhail click here or call 727-312-4844.


You’ve probably heard the term “statins” before. In case you haven’t, statins are a class of lipid-lowering/cholesterol-lowering medications. They are known to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, chest pain, strokes, heart attacks, and death in people. For this article, we want to share a general overview of statins and heart disease and if a person should or should not be taking them. Ultimately, this is a conversation to be had with your primary care doctor or cardiologist. Every patient’s situation is different and should be handled differently.

Many studies have shown that statins have been able to keep people alive longer by reducing the risk and number of heart attacks and strokes a person will or may experience. Statins help in preventing the arteries from building plaque and becoming blocked. They inhibit the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase.

If you happen to have many of the risk factors of developing heart disease (and not just solely based on your age), a doctor may recommend this drug to you. The statins help reduce the chance of heart disease by preventing atherosclerosis, which is blocked arteries or narrowed blood vessels.

Like any drug, there are side effects and risks. Some side effects include: muscle aches and cramps, pins and needles feeling, bloating, diarrhea, rashes, stomach pain, cataracts, impaired memory, headaches, liver failure, skeletal muscles and diabetes.

If you suffer from heart disease or are at a high risk, your doctor may put you on a statin regardless of your cholesterol levels. On average if your risk is over 7.5 percent in the next 10 years, the doctor will likely prescribe a statin.

If you are a heart disease patient, it is time to discuss with your doctor if a statin is right for you. If medication is not an option, heart valve surgery may be recommended. Dr. Peter Mikhail of Tampa, Clearwater, and New Port Richey, Florida, performs mitral valve surgery and mini-AVR on patients with mitral valve disease and aortic valve disease. To book an appointment or learn more, click here or call 727-312-4844.



Dr. Peter Mikhail is a thoracic and cardiac surgeon in Tampa, Clearwater, and New Port Richey, Florida. Dr. Mikhail is Board Certified by the American Board of Surgery, The American Board of Thoracic Surgery and The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

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