Henrik Lundqvist has been through a lot in his NHL career. The legendary goalie was bought out by the New York Rangers last year and signed with the Washington Capitals, but he won’t play this season after learning he needed open heart surgery.
Henrik underwent surgery for an aortic valve replacement, aortic root replacement and ascending aortic repair in January. Henrik shared a heartwarming post on social media Friday, detailing his progress.
Aortic Valve Replacement
The aortic valve, which opens and closes each time your heart beats to send blood out into the body’s main blood vessel (the aorta), is one of four that control blood flow. If your aortic valve is diseased or damaged, you may need surgery. Without treatment, your condition can lead to heart failure or a heart attack.
In aortic valve replacement, our surgeon removes your diseased aortic valve and replaces it with a new biological or mechanical valve. If you have a mechanical valve, you will need to take long-term medication to prevent blood clots from developing in your heart.
Penn doctors can perform a lifesaving, minimally invasive surgical procedure to repair or replace your aortic valve. This procedure, called TAVR, reduces pain and recovery time for patients. Our outcomes are similar to or better than traditional surgical aortic valve replacement. During your hospital stay, you will receive fluids, nutrition and medications through intravenous lines.
Aortic Root Replacement
The aortic root is the first part of the aorta, the main blood vessel that carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Abnormal enlargement of the aortic root can cause a complication known as an aortic dissection, which may lead to sudden death. Aortic root replacement surgery (also called a composite valve-graft) involves removing a section of your aorta and replacing it with an artificial tube (graft). This procedure also replaces your aortic valve. You will need to take anticoagulants for the rest of your life to prevent blood clots.
Henrik Lundqvist, 38, is one of the NHL’s most legendary goalies and a three-time Vezina Trophy winner. But he’ll miss the upcoming season after learning in December that his heart condition would require him to undergo open-heart surgery. Henrik has since shifted his focus to his recovery. Despite the setback, Henrik has maintained that he’ll play again in the future.
Ascending Aorta Replacement
When the ascending aorta becomes weakened, surgeons replace it with a synthetic fabric tube called a graft. If other parts of the aorta are damaged, like the aortic root and arch, your doctor may replace them at the same time.
A thoracic aortic aneurysm typically causes pain in the chest or back. When the aneurysm expands, it can lead to aortic dissection, which is a life-threatening emergency. Patients with symptoms of expanding thoracic aortic aneurysm, such as sudden onset of severe chest or back pain, need prompt surgical intervention to prevent aortic rupture and death.
Your surgeon removes the diseased portion of the aorta and connects a Dacron graft to the proximal aortic arch. Your aortic valve and the great vessels (innominate and left carotid) are reimplanted into this graft. This repair is called a one-stage operation for aortic coarctation and an ascending aortic aneurysm. The extra-anatomic technique has a low risk of complications. It is the procedure of choice for most repairs of zone 0 ascending aortic aneurysm.
Henrik Lundqvist, who starred as the goaltender for the New York Rangers for 15 seasons before being bought out of his final contract this past September, announced in December that he would miss this season due to a heart condition. In a series of Instagram posts, Lundqvist wrote that he will undergo open-heart surgery, consisting of an aortic valve replacement and a aortic root and ascending aortic replacement.
On Tuesday, the 38-year-old goalie posted a video to his Twitter account of him blocking shots on the ice — just weeks after his operation. He captioned the video with a smiley face emoji and tagged his former Rangers teammates to wish them well.
Lundqvist chose to have a mechanical valve made from cow tissue rather than an artificial valve to avoid being on blood thinners and potentially risking complications down the road. Henrik will continue to host his Emmy Award-winning MSG Network show The Mask, and will also take part in some of the upcoming Stanley Cup playoff coverage.