April 2, 2019 -- When Mick Jagger, legendary frontman of the Rolling Stones, announced over the weekend the band is postponing the North American leg of its No Filter Tour on doctor's orders for his medical treatment, few other details were released.
Jagger, 75, posted this message on his Facebook page Saturday: "I’m so sorry to all our fans in America & Canada with tickets. I really hate letting you down like this. I’m devastated for having to postpone the tour but I will be working very hard to be back on stage as soon as I can. Once again, huge apologies to everyone."
While the exact problem is not specified, news reports pegged it as a either a need for a cardiac stent or a heart valve replacement. The Drudge Report, an online news aggregator, first reported that Jagger would need a heart valve procedure Monday, something that Rolling Stone magazine says it has confirmed.
WebMD asked two cardiac surgeons about heart valve replacement. Neither doctor treats Jagger, and they are speaking about the procedure in general.
If the need is for valve replacement, a strong possibility would be to replace the aortic valve because of aortic valve stenosis, or narrowing, says Mohammed Imam, MD, chairman of cardiothoracic surgery and executive director of the Heart Institute at Northwell Staten Island University Hospital in New York. Fernando Fleischman, MD, a cardiac surgeon and associate professor of surgery at Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California, agrees.
The condition happens when the flaps of the valve become stiff and thickened or may fuse together. The narrowed valve can't open fully, and that blocks blood flow from the heart to your aorta (the main artery to your body) and the rest of your body.
The need for aortic valve replacement happens often, especially as people age, Imam says. "It's a very common problem, a huge problem," he says. The condition can result simply from the "wear and tear" of aging, Imam says.
Fleischman says an aortic valve replacement is the more probable diagnosis than a need to replace the mitral valve, which allows blood to flow from the heart’s left atrium to its left ventricle.
The aortic valve replacement can be done the traditional way, as open heart surgery, the doctors say, or in a less invasive way approved by the FDA in late 2011. That approach, called TAVR, stands for trans aortic valve replacement.
With TAVR, a surgeon repairs the valve without removing the original valve, putting the replacement valve in the original valve's place. The replacement valve takes over regulating the blood flow.
"TAVR takes about an hour to an hour and a half, and [traditional] open heart [to replace that valve] takes about 3.5 hours," Imam says. Recovery time for TAVR is about a week, while it's about 4 to 6 weeks for open-heart surgery.
Fleischman has been a consultant for various valve and stent makers.