The Stones were forced to postpone a number of tour dates due to Jagger’s ill health. The band apologised to fans who has brought tickets for the tour which was meant to be across the US and Canada. It was later revealed that Jagger’s mysterious illness was known as aortic valve stenosis. The condition meant that he had to have heart valve replacement surgery straight away.
The icon was admitted to New York’s Presbyterian Hospital after the condition was spotted during a routine check-up.
The same condition killed fellow rockstar The Clash’s Joe Strummer back in 2002, so for Jagger the regular health check-ups were paramount.
Aortic valve stenosis is a condition that develops when the aortic valve of the heart – the main valve which blood goes through to leave the organ – becomes tight meaning it does not open as well. This makes blood flowing through it extremely difficult.
According to MyHeart.net the tightening of this value is often due to a build-up of calcium deposits over time. This increases the stress and scarring on the heart causing it to generate an increased force to send blood through.
READ MORE: Dementia: The ‘first’ symptom may not be memory loss
If the condition is left untreated then life-threatening conditions such as heart failure can develop, due to this increased amount of strain the heart is under.
After having surgery, the star was able to recover impressively quickly. This was due to him having the surgery in a very minimal non-invasive way.
Due to developments in modern medicine, the procedure was able to be carried out through a small incision in the leg artery. The replacement valve is then moved into position of the old heart valve.
During the procedure the heart is still beating, with the patient often awake and under a light sedation.
As Dr Mustafa Ahmed commented, it is likely that the star was able to get up the same day he had the operation. “Many patients go home 1-2 days after their procedure,” Dr Ahmed said.
“Unlike open-heart surgery, where it may take several months to regain full activity, TAVR allows recovery to happen much more quickly. For this reason, Mick Jagger was able to resume training so soon after the procedure.”
Soon after the surgery, Jagger’s younger brother Chris spoke to Sunday People and said: “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.
“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. His father died from it. It was hereditary. With Mick it came on a check-up.
“That is why when you get to a certain age they want to check for this, check for that. You get to 70, you got to be careful, you know. I’ve had a few health issues. At least he has not got to wait in line for the NHS.”
Now at 78 years old Mick Jagger seems to be fighting fit. However, sadly the death of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts in August 2021 showed all too well the realities of health for the ageing band.
Signs of aortic valve stenosis
Although you may never feel any symptoms, there are gradual signs of a weakening heart that can sometimes be overlooked. Sometimes it is worth checking them with your GP in case they are a hint to something more serious.
These signs include the following:
- Shortness of breath, especially during exercise
- Chest pain or tightness
- Feeling faint or lightheaded
- Heart palpitations (rapid or fluttering heartbeat)
- Heart murmur (an extra beat in between your usual heartbeats).
According to WebMD, the condition is more likely to appear in older people as the build-up of calcium can take years.
However, it is possible to be born with an abnormal aortic valve, meaning that surgery later in life is almost unavoidable.
The good news about the condition is that it is completely treatable. The surgery that Jagger had is one of the latest in modern medicine developments and avoids open-heart surgery.