The Rolling Stones frontman says he is “working very hard to be back on stage” ASAP.
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Last Thursday, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger underwent heart valve replacement surgery. The 75-year-old rocker was “devastated” to cancel the North American leg of the band’s No Filter tour, but just one day after surgery, Jagger took to Facebook to thank his fans for their support. “Thank you everyone for all your messages of support, I’m feeling much better now and on the mend—also a huge thank you to all the hospital staff for doing a superb job,” he wrote.
Jagger’s younger brother, Chris, said in a recent interview with The Sunday People that the singer is lucky to be alive after a scan revealed that he had a heart condition similar to one that killed The Clash star Joe Strummer at age 50.
“Mick is doing OK. I spoke to him…he’s good. It just showed up on a scan so it could happen to anybody, you know,” Jagger said. “It happened to Joe. He came back from walking the dogs and his wife found him collapsed on the sofa. He had this valve problem,” Jagger said. “His father died from it. It was hereditary. With Mick, it came on a check-up.”
Jagger seemed to suggest that this heart condition might have convinced Mick to take some time off and postpone the rest of the tour. Fortunately, Jagger is recovering well after surgery and is taking some time now to rest up and fully heal.
Billboard reported that the No Filter tour will pick up in July with new dates to be announced after Jagger completes his recovery. So, what exactly does a heart valve replacement entail? Here, doctors explain how heart valve surgery works, any risks to expect, and what recovery looks like.
What is heart valve surgery, exactly?
Heart valve surgery is done to treat heart disease, an issue with one of the four valves in your heart that keep your blood flowing in the right direction, according to the Mayo Clinic. Each valve has flaps that open and close during a heartbeat and, when they don’t open or close the way they should, it can disrupt the blood flow through your heart and body.
During heart valve surgery, a doctor will either repair or replace the affected valves. This can be done during one of several different surgeries, including open heart surgery and minimally invasive heart surgery, says Marc Gillinov, MD, chairman of the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery in the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinic
There are a few options when it comes to replacing a valve, the American Heart Association says. Those include inserting a mechanical valve, a human or animal donor valve, and “borrowing” a healthy valve and moving it to the spot where you have damage.
Timing of the surgery depends on what you’re having done, but it can run from about an hour for a catheter-based valve replacement to four hours for a more standard surgical procedure, Dr. Gillinov says.
What are the risks of heart valve surgery?
Heart valve surgery definitely comes with complications, and they can be serious. According to the Mayo Clinic, risks include:
All of these complications can potentially be fatal. However, if you’re having surgery done at an experienced center, the risks are usually pretty low, Dr. Gillinov says. “The risk of not getting through the operation should be less than one in 100,” he says.
What does recovery look like after heart valve surgery?
People usually spend a day or so in the intensive care unit, Dr. Gillinov says. Afterward, they’re moved to a regular hospital room for several days of monitoring and pain management. Overall, people can expect about two weeks of recovery with a catheter-based procedure (the kind that Jagger reportedly had), three to four weeks with a robotic surgery, and six to eight weeks with an open heart procedure, Dr. Gillinov says. Regardless, most people “will be walking around in a few days,” he adds.
Still, “it takes about a good month of recovery to really get the patient back to their normal activities,” says Gabriele Di Luozzo, MD, director of aortic surgery at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s in New York. “But we tell patients that once you’re at home, you can do 80 to 85 percent of your normal activities.”
He advises his patients to be active and take daily walks after they’re discharged. “I like to see patients walking two miles a day by the time they’re back to see me in three to four weeks,” Dr. Di Luozzo says. As for someone super-active like Jagger, it may take a little more time to get back to 100 percent—but it looks like he will back on stage in no time.