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John is back in action after a minimally invasive heart procedure

We helped this avid photographer get back to his picture perfect lifestyle.

A man poses in the park with his professional camera.
John capturing the natural splendor of Central Park.

As a nature, landscape and underwater photographer who travels all over the world, maintaining an active lifestyle is a priority for 73-year-old John Anderson. The Upper East Side resident also bikes, walks 10,000 steps a day, works as a coffee broker, plays the piano and writes—he’s a published author of several religious books and science fiction novels.

However, a history of heart issues had been slowing him down. He suffered from shortness of breath—not something that’s compatible with his love of biking, walking and diving. John knew for some years that he had a narrowing at the opening of his aortic valve. This condition, called aortic stenosis, inhibits the blood flow from the left ventricle of the heart to the aorta, which is the main artery that carries blood away from the heart to the body. As his stenosis and symptoms worsened, he knew that he needed to address this issue if he was to remain healthy and active.

Man in his 70s standing in front of the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park.
John’s active lifestyle keeps him on the move—from scuba diving to traveling the world.

“I had no energy,” he said. “I couldn’t do anything. I was out of breath, tired and very limited in what I was able to do.” While John could still enjoy activities such as playing the piano or writing—he had lost his physically active lifestyle. “I was having a hard time getting on the bus,” he said.

Luckily, John’s cardiologist referred him to the specialists at Lenox Hill Heart & Lung who were recognized by Healthgrades’ 100 best heart programs in America, five years in a row. Chad Kliger, MD, the director of Structural Heart Disease and a structural interventional cardiologist, is at the forefront of treatments for valve disease and recommended a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) for John’s aortic stenosis.

TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure that allows patients to avoid open-heart surgery, and often provides patients with a faster recovery and shorter stay in the hospital. It involves a physician guiding a catheter, the majority of the time, through an artery in the leg to the heart with an artificial valve attached. The artificial valve replaces the original valve and restores normal blood flow. “I thought the idea sounded great,” said John.

He describes the procedure as a relatively easy process compared to some of the surgeries he’s had, including a knee replacement. “And, I love Dr. Kliger. He’s a good guy,” said John. “He and his staff at Lenox Hill Heart & Lung have treated me very well and I've always been happy there.”

Man in his 70s at a Bethesda Terrace in Central Park, posing with his hands on his hips.
John is feeling healthy and ready for his next adventure.

After two to three days recovering in the hospital, John went home, where he continued to slowly build up his physical activity. Although recovery varies for each person, within one month he was back to walking 10,000 steps a day and had started biking again. At six months out from the procedure, he was back to pursuing all of his favorite activities. “I was able to bike, go scuba diving and hike again,” said John.

Just last fall, John traveled to Zion National Park in Utah to shoot photos, and last year he went to Bali, where he dove down more than 60 feet to take some underwater shots of exotic fish. He has the stamina to dive up to three times a day and estimates that he’s approaching 4,000 dives overall. “The new valve really did change my life” said John. “I got my lifestyle back.”