Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)
Until now, patients with severe aortic stenosis have had to give up much of what makes life enjoyable. But a new procedure at the Heart Institute at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center, called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), means they won't have to give up hope.
The Heart Institute at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center is the first hospital in the Treasure Coast to offer Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). This is a promising new procedure for those considered too high risk for traditional heart valve replacement or those who were previously considered inoperable.
TAVR is performed on high-risk and inoperable patients with severe aortic stenosis. All patients are carefully evaluated to see if they are candidates for traditional surgical aortic valve replacement and then TAVR can be considered for treatment. The goal is to provide the best treatment for each individual patient.
What Is Aortic Stenosis?
Severe aortic stenosis is a narrowing of your aortic valve opening that does not allow normal blood flow. In elderly patients, severe aortic stenosis is sometimes caused by the build-up of calcium (mineral-deposits) on the aortic valve's leaflets.
You may notice symptoms like chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, light-headedness, fainting or difficulty when exercising. It is important to remember heart valve disease often occurs with no outward symptoms and may go undetected.
How TAVR Works
Through a small puncture in the groin or upper thigh, a catheter is inserted into the femoral artery. Imaging helps the physician guide the catheter through the femoral artery to the diseased aortic valve. The new valve is crimped down to the diameter smaller than a pencil and guided through the catheter with the help of imaging, until it reaches the diseased aortic valve. Once it reaches the diseased aortic valve, the new valve is expanded into place and allows blood to flow through the aortic valve naturally.
The Transcatheter valve can also be inserted through alternate access if there is an issue with the peripheral artery system. These insertion sites are: Transapical, Subclavian and Direct Aortic.
Evaluation In Multi-Disciplinary Valve Clinic
All potential TAVR patients are evaluated in our multi-disciplinary valve clinic. They are seen by a team of physicians including a Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Interventional Cardiologist. Our valve clinic nurses play an important role in the coordination of patient care and education of the patient and family before and after the procedure. Our patients can call the valve clinic with any questions or concerns. Our team is always available to assist.
What To Expect Following The Procedure
Although patients will need to remain in the hospital for a few days following the replacement, the actual procedure typically takes between 1-2 hours to complete. Compared to a lengthy heart surgery and a recovery that spans several months, the transcatheter aortic valve replacement demands a much smaller interruption of life activities.
Benefits and Risks
The crucial time window following a transcatheter aortic valve replacement is 30 days. During this time, patients have a higher risk of strokes and vascular disorders. Bleeding problems could also be a concern, but these instances occur more frequently with those who have undergone traditional heart surgery. Despite the risks, the development of this noninvasive valve replacement has dramatically improved the survival chances of those with aortic stenosis. So far, recovery rates have matched those of traditional surgery, while dramatically surpassing other noninvasive procedures.
If you have any questions about TAVR and whether or not it may be an option for you or your loved one, please call the heart valve program coordinator, Shelly Kennedy, at 772-468-4538 or fax at, 772-489-6335.