January 28, 2020

TAVR Procedure: A Story of Hope

Roger Anderson couldn’t walk 30 feet without losing his breath, and his heart doctor told him he had a 50 percent chance of dying within two more years without a new procedure called TAVR. Anderson, 58, of Murray, knew it was his only hope.

Anderson started breathing better just hours after the procedure and went home two days later with a new lease on life. “Since I had that heart valve put in, I’m a new man now,” Anderson said. “I feel 100 percent better. I could tell the difference as soon as I woke up in the recovery room.”

What is TAVR?

TAVR is used to treat patients with aortic stenosis, one of the most common heart valve diseases.

Transcatheter valve repair (TAVR) is a minimally invasive way to replace a person’s aortic valve. TAVR is an innovative new procedure for cardiac patients that offers an alternative to traditional open-heart surgery. The procedure uses a catheter to replace a failing heart valve, making it much less invasive than open-heart operations.

What is Aortic Stenosis?

Severe aortic stenosis occurs when the aortic valve leaflets become stiff and thickened and have difficulty opening and closing, making the heart work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body and, therefore, affecting an individual’s daily activities. If left untreated, patients with symptomatic severe aortic stenosis can die from heart failure in as little as two years.

Treatment Options for Aortic Stenosis:

Open Heart Surgery

Open heart surgery and transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)

Aortic stenosis has traditionally been treated with open-heart surgery with surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR). Open-heart surgery is a major operation in which the surgeon opens the chest to access the heart. During open-heart surgery, the heart is stopped, and blood is bypassed through a heart-lung machine. The cardiologist will remove the diseased valve, and sew a new artificial valve into place.

SAVR has had good outcomes in patients who are suitable candidates for surgery, but there is a long recovery period that includes several days of hospitalization. Also, some patients are unsuitable candidates because they have too many other medical conditions.

How the TAVR Procedure Works:

TAVR is performed by placing a catheter in the femoral artery, the large blood vessel in the groin. A new heart valve mounted on another catheter is threaded through the initial catheter in the blood vessel and across the diseased aortic valve, and then the new valve is deployed by pushing the old valve leaflets to the side. The new valve leaflets start to function immediately.

In most cases, the procedure lasts 90 minutes and is performed under sedative medications without general anesthesia. Many patients are discharged the following day and are usually back to normal activity within a week.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you need an aortic valve replaced, you will need to be evaluated by a heart team that includes your cardiologist and a cardiac surgeon. The heart team will provide treatment options and discuss the risks and benefits of your options.

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