The Terminator star and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is on the mend after undergoing heart surgery. The 73-year-old actor and politician said on Twitter this week that he was “feeling fantastic” after having a new aortic valve installed at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
The aortic valve in the heart keeps blood flowing in the right direction, keeping the heart healthy and preventing it from failing. When it malfunctions, it can cause serious complications. The most common type of aortic valve defect is called bicuspid aortic valve (BAV), and it affects about 1% to 2% of people worldwide.
In a recent interview with Graham Bensingeropens in a new tab or window, the former governor and movie star revealed that he had a reoperation to replace his aortic valve, as well as a pulmonary valve, two years ago. The aortic valve is located at the top of the heart, and the pulmonary valve sits between the lungs and the heart.
When one or both of these valves become faulty, it can cause the heart to beat too fast, which can lead to chest pain and shortness of breath. The problem can also result in a condition called heart failure, which requires hospitalization and can cause other serious health problems.
Another complication of this type of valve disorder is pulmonic stenosis, where the pulmonary valve does not work properly and impedes blood flow to the lungs. The condition can result in life-threatening complications and is the leading cause of death among people with pulmonic stenosis, according to Mayo Clinic.
It’s not a new thing for Schwarzenegger to have heart surgery, as the 73-year-old previously had a pulmonic valve replacement in 1997. During the procedure, he opted for a less-invasive catheter valve replacement rather than an open heart operation.
The catheter procedure is a less invasive way to replace the pulmonic valve, which is situated between the heart and the lungs. It can be performed on its own or, as with Schwarzenegger’s case, in conjunction with an open heart operation.
Daniel Ketchell, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger, says the former governor and actor underwent the less-invasive procedure in order to replace his pulmonic valve that was originally replaced in 1997. This new valve was never meant to be permanent and outlived its life expectancy, Ketchell said.
After undergoing the procedure, the 73-year-old actor and politician thanked the Cleveland Clinic for their help in his recovery. He then shared a photo showing him giving a thumbs-up sign from his hospital bed while holding up a red heart pillow.
The aortic valve is at the top of the heart, allowing for blood to pass from the right ventricle into the aorta. It can fail due to many different reasons, including a bicuspid aortic valve or a leaking aortic valve.
A leaking heart valve can also cause fluid to build up in the lungs, which can lead to severe breathing issues and pneumonia. The condition can also result in lung failure and even lead to heart failure, as Schwarzenegger explained.