LiveSmart: TAVR – The Minimally Invasive Answer to Heart Valve Replacement

[This story was written by Nish Patel, MD, FACC, Albany Associates in Cardiology, a member of St. Peter’s Health Partners Medical Associates.]

In its upcoming February 27 print edition, The New England Journal of Medicine is set to publish a study that shows patients who underwent minimally invasive transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) surgery had similar clinical outcomes as patients who had traditional open-heart surgery.

The five-year study compared long-term outcomes of TAVR versus open-heart approaches to treating aortic valve stenosis. According to the American Heart Association, nearly 1.5 million people in the U.S. have aortic valve stenosis, which, if left untreated, often results in heart failure or death.

Aortic valve stenosis is a narrowing or hardening of the aortic valve most often caused by calcium buildup on the heart valve flaps. When the valve cannot fully open, less oxygen-rich blood flows to the body. This forces the heart to work harder to pump blood, and eventually can lead to heart failure.

Symptoms of aortic valve stenosis typically include:

  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness, feeling dizzy, and/or fainting
  • Difficulty breathing with exertion

TAVR replaces a patient’s diseased aortic heart valve with a new valve to help the heart pump blood more easily. At St. Peter’s, TAVR is performed in a state-of-the-art hybrid operating room, utilizing a transfemoral approach (through a puncture in the leg artery).

This minimally invasive approach avoids the need for open-chest heart surgery and allows the heart to continue to beat during the procedure. Unlike open-heart surgery, TAVR is performed with minimal anesthesia and patients are often able to go home the next day. Other benefits of TAVR include:

  • Recovery process is significantly shorter (it may only take three to five days instead of weeks).
  • Less painful than traditional open heart surgery.
  • Offers improved quality of life in patients who may not be eligible for traditional aortic valve replacement.

At St. Peter’s Hospital, potential candidates for TAVR are assessed by our team of interventional cardiologists, anesthesiologists, radiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons. During the evaluation, the team will assess the patient’s medical condition and examine other factors to ensure the best possible outcome.

TAVR is one procedure on a comprehensive list offered by St. Peter’s Hospital, which has received multiple recognitions and awards for its compassionate, high-quality, and patient-centered cardiac care. St. Peter’s recently received the 2020 Women’s Choice Award as one of America’s Best Hospitals for Heart Care. It is the sixth year in a row it has been recognized with the award.

To learn more about TAVR or the other cardiac and vascular services at St. Peter’s Hospital visit or call Albany Associates in Cardiology at 518-458-2000.

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