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Diet and exercise. When it comes to heart health, these two lifestyle habits are known to truly help – or hinder – the health of your heart. We’ve all heard about the benefits of eating healthy and being active, but did you know that sitting in a sauna has health benefits for your heart? It does!

For centuries, saunas have been praised for their health benefits. While in a sauna, a person’s body temperature increases, which means the heart rate increases, as well. The cardiac output is higher. If the heart rate rises, but the vessels of the body relax, resistance is lowered. Blood flow to the skin will increase and decrease to other organs.

In one study, saunas created a significant decrease in blood pressure in patients with high blood pressure. Saunas had the same results as blood pressure medications. Other studies have shown that a sauna is beneficial for congestive heart failure patients. Patients felt improved after using a sauna.

In a study done at the University of Eastern Finland, frequent sauna visits were associated with lower death rates from cardiovascular disease and stroke. Time in the sauna may keep the heart healthy and even extend a person’s life. Other studies have shown that regular time in the sauna may benefit people with risk factors for heart disease such has high cholesterol and diabetes.

Saunas are not recommended for patients with low blood pressure, unstable angina, or those who just recently a heart attack.

Schedule an Appointment with a Tampa Heart Valve Surgeon

If you have a history of heart disease in your family or currently suffer from heart disease, talk to a heart valve surgeon; you may be a candidate for heart valve surgery. Dr. Peter Mikhail is a heart valve surgeon who specializes in mitral valve surgery and TAVR. To book a consult, click our heart valve surgery page or call 727-312-4844. He is based in New Port Richey, Florida, and treats patients in the Tampa and Clearwater area.


Aortic stenosis is a form of aortic valve disease. With this condition, the aortic valve’s flaps (cusps) have thickened or become stiff and could possibly fuse together, which narrows the valve. Because of this, the valve’s opening is narrowed and blocks or reduces blood flow from the heart into the aorta and to the rest of the body. Aortic stenosis is also referred to as a tight aortic valve.

When the aortic valve is tight, there is greater stress on the heart and less blood going elsewhere in the body. When a person has aortic stenosis, the aortic valve does not open properly, so it is harder for blood to leave the heart.

If a person has a serious case of aortic stenosis, the stress placed on the heart can potentially lead to heart failure and death. If the heart is working harder to pump the blood out because of the stenosis, the heart muscle becomes thicker, which can lead to congestion and congestive heart failure.

Most people who develop aortic stenosis are older in age. Over time, the aortic valve just becomes damaged from wear and tear. The degeneration of the aortic valve leads to a build up of calcium, which makes the valve become less mobile, which is what restricts the valve from opening easily.

Mild aortic stenosis usually isn’t a problem, but severe aortic stenosis can have bad side effects that can lead to worse complications. When a person has severe aortic stenosis and is experiencing symptoms or signs of heart weakness, he or she should seek treatment. Some signs and symptoms of aortic stenosis include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, passing out, and fatigue. Patients with severe aortic stenosis need treatment or they will not survive past a few more years.

A heart valve specialist can determine the severity of your aortic stenosis. A doctor can diagnose your aortic stenosis through listening for a murmur through a stethoscope, listening for a certain type of pulse, from an echocardiogram, and through a stress test.

Aortic stenosis must be treated through surgery. Medicine cannot treat this condition. A patient will need either an aortic valve repair or an aortic valve replacement. Not everyone is an eligible candidate for this surgery. To get this surgery, the benefits must be greater than the risks for the patient.

Dr. Peter Mikhail is a heart valve surgeon who performs TAVR and mini-AVR on his patients with aortic valve stenosis and aortic valve disease. To learn more about this surgery, click his aortic valve surgery page.

Looking for an Tampa Aortic Valve Surgeon?

If you have aortic valve disease, it’s time to talk to a heart valve surgeon to see if you are a candidate for aortic valve surgery. Dr. Peter Mikhail is a heart valve surgeon who specializes in mini-AVR and TAVR. To book a consult, click our heart valve surgery page or call 727-312-4844. He is based in New Port Richey, Florida, and treats patients in the Tampa and Clearwater area.


What is structural heart disease? Structural heart disease is a type of heart disease that is the result of wear and tear on the heart valves, or a type of heart disease a person is born with. A tight or leaky heart valve is structural heart disease. If a person is born with a hole within the chambers of the heart, this is a structural heart disease from birth.

Right now, structural heart disease is one of the fastest growing fields in cardiology. Patients can now receive minimally-invasive surgeries and treatments that are a lot less risky than open-heart surgery. These new surgeries have less trauma and a faster recovery time for the patients.

Surgeons who deal with structural heart diseases have a specialist expertise level. A heart surgeon usually works with a cardiologist and an image specialist to determine the best course of action for the patient. Depending on the patient’s symptoms, age, and personal history, the doctors will determine if open-heart surgery or minimally-invasive surgery is the better option that will lead to the best result.

Structural heart procedures and surgeries include:

  • Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)
  • Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair (TMVR)
  • Paravalvular Leak Repair
  • Transcatheter mitral valve replacement
  • Balloon valvuloplasty for mitral stenosis
  • Repair of coarctation of the aorta
  • Repair of aneurysms
  • Repair of fistulas
  • Transcatheter pulmonary valve replacement

Looking for an Tampa Heart Valve Surgeon?

If you have structural heart valve disease, it’s time to talk to a heart valve surgeon. Dr. Peter Mikhail is a heart valve surgeon who specializes in mini-AVR and TAVR. He will be able to determine if you can have a minimally-invasive heart valve surgery or procedure. To book a consult, click our heart valve surgery page or call 727-312-4844. Dr. Mikhail is based in New Port Richey, Florida, and treats patients in the Tampa and Clearwater area.


Mitral valve disease can be a serious condition when the mitral valve (the valve located between the left atrium and left ventricle heart chambers) no longer works properly. The mitral valve’s job is to keep blood flowing properly from the left atrium to the left ventricle. This valve is the one most often correlated with disease.  When the mitral valve isn’t functioning properly, the heart is not pumping enough blood out of the left ventricular chamber to provide the body with oxygen-enriched blood.

As of right now, medical research is not close to finding a medicine that can treat mitral valve disease. However, some medications, through studies, have shown some benefits for mitral valve disease patients. For a patient with mitral valve prolapse, beta-blocker metoprolol has been shown to potentially prevent the heart function from worsening over time. Some patients on this medicine were less likely to need surgery during their time on it. Studies published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggested that beta-blocker therapy may help patients with mitral valve prolapse and leaky valves. However, more trials are being done. Beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors may also help with reducing an enlarged heart back to its normal size.

Currently, the best course of action to fix mitral valve conditions is still mitral valve surgery. Visit our Mitral Valve Surgery page to learn more about this surgery, its benefits and risks, and what to expect before and after the surgery. Surgery can be scary, but it will improve your chances of living a longer, healthier life. These days, mitral valve procedures are minimally-invasive so they’re less traumatic to the body and require a shorter recovery time.

Schedule Mitral Valve Surgery in Tampa

If you suffer from mitral valve disease, don’t search for a medication to fix your valve, because surgery is the best solution if you have a severe condition.  Don’t hesitate, talk to a heart valve surgeon. Dr. Peter Mikhail is a heart valve surgeon who specializes in mitral valve surgery. He will be able to determine if you can have a minimally-invasive heart valve surgery or procedure. To book a consult, click our heart valve surgery page or call 727-312-4844. Dr. Mikhail is based in New Port Richey, Florida, and treats patients in the Tampa and Clearwater area.


What is cardiac depression? Cardiac depression is a form of depression. It occurs after a heart event, such as heart valve surgery. People often feel alone, lost, and lack energy. After heart surgery, 20 to 40 percent of cardiac patients may begin to exhibit signs of depression.

Some doctors believe that depression after a cardiac event can lead to a poorer outcome for the patient, meaning the depression is a risk factor for heart disease and other outcomes following a heart event. So, depression can increase/create a vicious cycle of heart treatments/events and more depression.

The purpose of heart valve surgery is to give a patient a better quality of life. Certainly, life will not be better if the patient is depressed. Symptoms which usually appear if a person is clinically depressed after heart valve surgery include sadness, loss of sleep, too much sleep, loss of interest in activities the person once loved, increase in appetite, irritability, lack of focus, lack of concentration, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, and thoughts of suicide.

Depression can be treated through certain medications like SSRIs, also through therapy with a counselor. A patient’s family can also help him or her with depression by inviting him or her to more activities, planning more fun events, and being a support system to the patient.  New activities, meeting friends, reading a book, going on a trip, calling a friend, watching a movie and going for a walk are also good ideas to help a person alleviate symptoms of depression.

Many times, the doctor may not spot a patient’s depression during a checkup, so it’s important for the patient or the patient’s family to identify the possibility of depression to the doctor. The doctor will work with the patient and the family to find the best course of action to manage the depression and alleviate symptoms.

Schedule Your Tampa Mitral Valve Surgery, TAVR

If you recently had heart valve surgery and are experiencing symptoms of depression, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor to have them checked out. If you suffer from heart valve disease and need surgery to repair or replace a valve, it’s time to talk to a heart valve surgeon about your options. Dr. Peter Mikhail is a heart valve surgeon who performs mitral valve surgery, TAVR and mini-AVR. To book a consult, click our heart valve surgery contact page or call 727-312-4844. He is based in New Port Richey, Florida, and treats patients in the Tampa and Clearwater areas.


Heart disease isn’t just for grownups. Unfortunately, babies and children can be born with or develop heart disease, too. Although age is a contributing factor to developing heart disease, it isn’t the only factor. Last month, there was great news in the heart health world – the FDA approved the world’s smallest mechanical heart valve for newborns and infants! Developed by Abbott Laboratories, this valve is called the Masters HP 15mm mechanical heart valve. Doctors can now use this to treat newborns or infants in need of a mitral valve or aortic valve replacement.

This announcement is truly a big deal. Before last month, heart valve surgeons had to use larger-sized valves, which were often unsuitable, on young children. Many children need this surgery. In fact, almost one in four children who live with critical heart defects may require surgery in the first year of their lives.  Around 40,000 babies are born with heart disease, known as congenital heart defect, each year.

This new valve is appropriately sized for a tiny body; it’s about the size of a U.S. dime. Doctors will be able to perform mitral valve surgery and aortic valve surgery on infants and babies using a mechanical valve that is the right size for their bodies. It is an exciting time to be a heart-valve surgeon; we have a new piece of equipment that can be a life-saving treatment option for newborns and infants.

Schedule Heart Valve Surgery in New Port Richey, Fl

If you have heart valve disease, you may be eligible for heart valve surgery for a heart valve repair or replacement. Dr. Peter Mikhail is a heart valve surgeon who performs mitral valve surgery, TAVR and mini-AVR. To book a consult, click our heart valve surgery contact page or call 727-312-4844. He is based in New Port Richey, Florida, and treats patients in the Tampa and Clearwater areas.


When it comes to mitral valve surgery, there are two options: a mitral valve repair or a mitral valve replacement. Most heart valve surgeons, like Dr. Peter Mikhail, aim to do a mitral valve repair. Why? It’s always better to preserve and repair a person’s own valve/body part, if possible. Now if the valve is too badly damaged, a replacement will most likely be the solution. For this article, we share the advantages of having a mitral valve repair over a mitral valve replacement.

  • As stated above, surgeons aim to keep a person’s valve if possible. By performing a repair rather than a replacement, a surgeon is able to keep the natural shape and function of the heart.
  • Patients don’t have to be on life-long medications (blood thinners) with a repair. Mitral valve replacements require the patients to take blood thinners for the rest of their lives.
  • After a mitral valve repair, 82 to 87 percent of the repaired valves still work 15 years later. Replacement valves have a lower (in the 70s) percentage, and animal valves must be replaced after 10 to 12 years.
  • The mortality rates for repairs are lower than for replacements. On average, the mortality rates for repairs are 1 to 2 percent, and 5 to 7 percent for replacements.

Mitral valve repair is often performed on patients with mitral regurgitation, which is the most common heart valve disorder. Around 20 percent of men and women suffer from mitral regurgitation after the age of 55. The earlier mitral valve regurgitation is diagnosed, and the earlier surgery is performed, the better results people will have from the surgery.

Whenever possible, Dr. Mikhail will repair a valve rather than replace it. Dr. Mikhail meets with his patients to determine their eligibility for mitral valve surgery. He will also determine if the patient needs a mitral valve repair or replacement. He works with his patients before, during, and after surgery by answering all questions and providing them with the resources they need to return to their daily lives, and even have a better quality of life.

Wondering if you need a valve repair or replacement? Time to book a consult with a heart valve surgeon. The earlier you do this, the better! Dr. Mikhail is a heart valve surgeon who performs mitral valve surgery, TAVR and mini-AVR. To book a consult, click our mitral valve surgery contact page or call 727-312-4844. He is based in New Port Richey, Florida, and treats patients in the Tampa and Clearwater areas.


Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Fortunately, people can lower their risk of developing heart disease by monitoring their diets. Overall, a diet low in saturated fats and low cholesterol, along with many other dietary factors, help lower one’s risk. Over the years, there have been many studies and articles have been written on “heart-healthy” foods for people to add in their diets. These foods are known to have anti-inflammatory properties, lower bad cholesterol, lower blood pressure, have antioxidants, and raise good cholesterol – all of which can help ward off heart disease. Throughout the years, soy products have been cited as a food source that lowers blood cholesterol levels and help provide other cardiovascular benefits. However, this has now changed.

In November, the FDA announced to revoke an authorized health claim about soy and heart disease. For the first time ever, the FDA is proposing a revocation. Back in 1999, the FDA approved the claim (to be used on packaged soy products) that soy protein can help reduce heart disease. Now, they’re changing their tune.

The Director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Susan Mayne, said in a released statement, “While some evidence continues to suggest a relationship between soy protein and a reduced risk of heart disease—including evidence reviewed by the FDA when the claim was authorized—the totality of currently available scientific evidence calls into question the certainty of this relationship.”

Apparently, after the FDA approved this health claim in 1999, there have been inconsistent findings regarding the ability of soy protein to help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Now, this doesn’t mean soy consumption increases a person’s heart disease risk, it just doesn’t reduce it.

This soy claim may change from an “authorized health claim” to a “qualified health claim.” A qualified health claim requires a lower scientific standard of evidence to explain the limited (but not definite) evidence linking soy protein intake with heart disease risk reduction.

The FDA will go through a full, official revocation process that will allow the public and industry stakeholders a chance to submit comments to the FDA to persuade it to keep the authorization. People can comment until January 18, 2018.

If you’re looking for heart-healthy foods that can help reduce one’s risk of developing heart disease, choose foods like nuts, salmon, berries, oatmeal, avocado, spinach, tuna, and olive oil.

If you are suffering from heart valve disease, Dr. Peter Mikhail is a thoracic and cardiac surgeon in New Port Richey, Florida who performs mitral valve surgery and TAVR.  He also treats patients in the Tampa and Clearwater areas. Dr. Mikhail advises his patients on the best diets based on their condition. To book a consult with Dr. Mikhail, click here or call his office at 727-312-4844.




Your doctor just told you that you have a calcified heart valve. One of your heart valves is stenotic. You potentially may need it repaired, or completely replaced. What does this exactly mean? How is there calcium build up on my valve? What is a stenotic valve? Is surgery the only option?

Upon being diagnosed with a type of heart valve disease, a lot of questions are probably buzzing around in your head – as they should be. Remember, never hold back from asking your doctor questions. You have just been diagnosed with mitral valve stenosis, which can be a very serious condition if left untreated. So, you should feel the need to ask and learn everything about this disease.

For this article, we address heart valve calcification/mitral valve stenosis to give you an overview of this disease. First, mitral valve disease is when the mitral valve (located between the left atrium and left ventricle heart chambers) is no longer working properly. When the valve isn’t functioning properly, the heart is unable to pump enough blood out of the left ventricular chamber to give the body oxygen-filled blood.  There are different types of mitral valve disease, but for this article, we will focus on mitral valve stenosis (obstruction).

Mitral valve stenosis is when the valve’s opening has narrowed and the valve’s flaps have thickened or stiffened; the flaps may have even fused together, which causes the narrowing or blockage of the valve. When this occurs, blood backs up in the left atrium of the heart instead of flowing to the left ventricle.

When the heart valve becomes calcified, there is a large amount of calcium on the valve, and it has been building up for many years. When the valve becomes calcified, the flaps become stiff and the valve narrows and becomes stenotic. How does this happen? Well, there are a few reasons. Some people’s valves begin to calcify just from age and wear and tear of the valves. Some people are born with congenital valve abnormalities. Some people’s lifestyle choices and history (smoking, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, elevated cholesterol) can lead to calcified valves. Some people’s valves become calcified through atherosclerosis, which is a process that causes arterial blockages in different parts of the body.

A person who has severe stenosis and calcification will experience shortness of breath, chest pain and lightheadedness.

With moderate to severe cases, surgery (valve repair or valve replacement) is usually suggested as the best option to fix the valve and eliminate symptoms. Patients can choose with their doctor whether they want a mechanical or biological heart valve. It’s good to note that even if you get your heart valve repaired or replaced, a biological valve can calcify again.

Unfortunately, there Is no known way to truly prevent the valves from calcifying. However, if a person does have a calcified valve, he or she should be under the watch of a cardiologist, to assess if the valve worsens over time. The cardiologist will most likely want to follow up in 6 months to a year. Treatment, such as surgery, will be suggested when deemed necessary.

Are you suffering from valve stenosis or calcification and looking for a surgeon? Dr. Peter Mikhail is a cardiac surgeon who specializes in performing surgeries on mitral and aortic valves. Dr. Mikhail is based in New Port Richey, FL, and treats patients in the Tampa and Clearwater areas. To book a consult, click here or call 727-312-4844.


Infective endocarditis (also known as IE) is an inflammatory condition that affects the inner lining and valves of the heart. It occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstream and settle on damaged heart tissue, weak or abnormal heart valves, or prosthetic valves.

IE is more prevalent among older Americans and men in particular. It affects an estimated four out of every 100,000 people in the U.S., and the number of reported cases appears to be increasing, according to a 10-year study published by the online journal PLOS ONE.

It’s not uncommon for bacteria to enter the bloodstream during certain surgical, routine medical, or dental procedures, and a healthy immune system will fight off the microscopic invaders. However, if they find their way to the heart, those bacteria can accumulate on a damaged heart valve and grow into a mass known as a “vegetation.”

Symptoms of an acute infection, which can become life threatening in a matter of days, include a sudden high fever, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, and fatigue. A sub-acute, or gradual infection will present itself with a mild fever, elevated heart rate, fatigue, chills and night sweats, and a low red blood cell count.

Individuals with heart disease and existing heart conditions – such as surgically repaired heart valves and congenital heart defects – have a higher risk of developing IE.

Infection in the heart is commonly detected with an echocardiogram.  A blood culture can determine what type of bacteria is present. Treatment typically involves the use of intravenous antibiotics over a four-to-six-week span.

Oftentimes, doctors will prescribe oral antibiotics to patients prior to a dental procedure, minor surgery, or a colonoscopy as a precautionary measure.

Gingivitis is a known cause of infection, so keeping your mouth clean and healthy, and getting regular dental care are two simple ways to prevent IE. The American Heart Association offers wallet cards in English and Spanish for people who require extra protection from infection.

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 his mitral valve surgery and AVR site for more information 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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