When the Rolling Stones kick off the North American leg of their No Filter tour on June 21 at Chicago’s Soldier Field, the performance will mark a mere two-month delay to the original schedule — despite the fact that front man Mick Jagger underwent heart surgery in early April.
Some graying fans at the the shows (which are sponsored by a retirement nonprofit) may identify with Jagger’s medical saga, which included a diagnosis of aortic stenosis and a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) in a New York hospital.
So how typical was Mick Jagger’s treatment and recovery — and how does it compare to the outlook of a TAVR recipient who isn’t as phenomenally active and wealthy as the lead Stone?
While Jagger’s celebrity means some details have been withheld from privacy, we can pick up a lot from news reports.
On March 30, Jagger posted to his Facebook page that the Stones would need to postpone their tour. His younger brother Chris Jagger revealed that Jagger’s condition “just showed up on a scan” and that he hadn’t been exhibiting symptoms. (Cardiac disorders of this sort are often first discovered because of a heart murmur.)
On the road again
By April 5, Jagger was able to tweet his thanks to his fans and medical team and announce that he was “on the mend.” And by May 16, a video of the musician practicing his signature dance moves went viral — the same day the Stones announced their new tour dates.
Jagger did his first media interview June 11 with a Toronto radio station during which he described his postoperative work day: “This morning (I did) a bit of gym,” he said. “Nothing crazy … Then I go into rehearsal with the rest of the band.”
So what did Mick Jagger’s surgery include? And what’s your prognosis for getting back on tour after a TAVR?
Take heart: Imran N. Ahmad, MD, medical director of interventional cardiology at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, told Considerable that you don’t have to be a rock star to recover quickly from a TAVR.
For one thing, this type of valve replacement is minimally invasive; in many cases, a catheter is inserted through the femoral artery in the groin.
Aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve. Using the catheter, the surgical team wedges an artificial valve inside the malfunctioning valve.
According to Dr. Ahmad, the big difference in recovery time is because a TAVR doesn’t require cutting through the patient’s breastbone. “This is very different from open-heart surgery where a patient’s sternum is opened and requires a one- to three-month period of restrictions on the patient’s physical activity — termed “sternal precautions” — to allow for proper healing of the sternal bone. For the routine TAVR procedure, the main restrictions are related to the access site through the femoral arteries.
“That typically entails restrictions for one week: no formal exercising such as treadmill or bicycling, no lifting anything over 10 pounds, easy on the stairs, and no driving. Even nonagenarians can go back to their routine physical activity and participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program quite quickly.”
Of course, recovery may not be so easy for patients who are less than healthy on other fronts, Dr. Ahmad noted. Patients who have problems such as lung disease or arthritis may be challenged to follow the rehabilitation program. “However, for those patients who have severe aortic stenosis but are otherwise healthy, we find they have major improvements in their functional capacity quite quickly as the majority of their limitations were due to the aortic valve stenosis in the first place. This may have been the case with Mr. Jagger.”
And while you might not have Mick’s dance moves, Dr. Ahmad said you can push your own limits quite soon after TAVR. “Often times, we find that patients enjoy the cardiac rehab environment and feel more confident in escalating their level of physical activity in the process. Our standard approach is to evaluate patients in the clinic one week after the TAVR procedure and then start cardiac rehabilitation at the one-month mark after the procedure following another clinic visit.”
So even if you’re just performing for friends and family, you can get some satisfaction in the knowledge that Mick’s medical comeback is not restricted to the rich and famous.
Even those of us in the cheap seats can recover quickly and completely from TAVR.