Is a heart valve replacement right for you?
Those who suffer with damaged heart valves may be candidates for a minimally invasive procedure known as a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). Cardiologist Ryan Wilson, MD, shared more about the procedure to help you understand if it could be an option for you.
What is TAVR?
TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure that replaces an aortic heart valve. Heart valves keep blood moving throughout the heart, but sometimes they become dysfunctional. Over time, aortic valves can become narrowed and can’t open and close normally. This causes trouble getting blood out of the heart to the remainder of the body.
“TAVR is a great minimally invasive option for heart valve replacement. Before TAVR, the only option was open heart surgery. TAVR is much less invasive and has a much faster recovery,” said Dr. Wilson.
What are the symptoms of a dysfunctional heart valve?
Dr. Wilson shared these symptoms to watch out for:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Passing out
How does the heart valve replacement work?
The procedure is performed by going through the artery in the leg with the heart valve implant. The implant is then placed inside the dysfunctional heart valve, allowing blood to flow freely. The procedure takes about an hour and is generally done with only a one-night hospital stay. Dr. Wilson said 95% of patients are able to go home the day after the procedure.
What is the recovery period?
The procedure has a quick recovery period, only requiring around five days of no heavy lifting.
Do symptoms immediately disappear after the procedure?
Dr. Wilson said most patients feel immediate results because all the blood that was trapped in the heart is now able to flow through to the rest of the body properly. “Their symptoms are gone immediately or gone within the next couple of weeks. Generally, patients feel so much better after the procedure,” he said.
Who is a good candidate for TAVR?
Generally, TAVR patients are in their 70s, 80s or 90s. When TAVR began, it was meant to be an option for high-risk patients who could not undergo open heart surgery. However, data has shown that TAVR valves are lasting just as long as valves placed through open heart surgery. This has allowed for low and moderate risk patients to become candidates for the TAVR procedure.
“With this longer lasting valve, we are now performing this procedure on younger patients as well,” said Dr. Wilson. “At Prisma Health we generally see patients ranging from 60 to 90+ years old. TAVR offers a fascinating technology that has improved dramatically over the past 19 years and has changed the lives of so many people for the better.”
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