Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement – for an improved quality of life
As we age, the aortic valve can progressively narrow (aortic stenosis). This can cause symptoms that greatly impact a person’s quality of life. A person affected by aortic stenosis may have trouble doing the things they love or even performing everyday tasks like grocery shopping or gardening. Once symptoms develop the risk of death increases. That’s why for patients who suffer from severe aortic stenosis, the timing of treatment is crucial.
At HCA Midwest Health, our Kansas City interventional cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons offer a non-surgical, minimally invasive approach to aortic heart valve replacement – TAVR. This procedure is performed at the HCA Midwest Health Heart & Vascular Institute, located at Research Medical Center. Research Medical Center is also home to the Structural Heart Clinic. It’s here that our highly skilled team of Kansas City cardiologists, interventional cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons offer diagnosis, evaluation and treatment in one convenient location. With all the heart specialists in one clinic, this allows you or your loved one to undergo testing, review of all results and develop a treatment plan by an entire team of specialists in one, convenient office visit. This level of convenience can spare you and your loved one the stress of running around, which is extremely important for a person suffering heart disease symptoms.
Patients can be referred to the HCA Midwest Health Heart & Vascular Institute Structural Heart Program by a primary care physician or Kansas City cardiologist. To speak with our Structural Heart Program Coordinator:
Referring physicians: We are committed to following up and informing you of your patient’s treatment plan.
The aortic valve is a three-leaflet valve and is the major valve between the heart and the aorta (the big blood vessel that takes all the blood to the body). The north part of the aorta goes up and brings blood and oxygen to the head and the brain. Then the aorta comes down and feeds the rest of the body. The aortic valve is meant to prevent backflow. When the heart pumps, the valve opens to let the blood out and then closes. As people get older, calcium may build-up on the aortic valve’s leaflets and valve may not open all the way (aortic stenosis). This causes the heart to work extremely hard to get the blood through. This can create a shortage of blood to your organs. Many times, aortic stenosis does not cause symptoms, but as it progresses severe aortic stenosis can result in symptoms that affect daily life such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme fatigue
- Chest pain
- The inability to complete daily activities (such as walking or getting dressed)
What is TAVR?
With Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, the new, bioprosthetic aortic valve is inserted on a long catheter through an artery in the leg. The aortic valve is wrapped around the catheter and when it gets in position at the heart, it is opened up inside the malfunctioning aortic valve (kind of like an umbrella). The diseased aortic valve holds the new valve in place. Your cardiologist will ensure the new valve is working properly before closing your incision. The procedure can take about 1-2 hours to complete.
Is TAVR right for me?
Aortic valve replacement is recommended for patients with severe aortic stenosis. Traditionally, replacing the aortic valve constituted major surgery that involved cutting the chest bone, stopping the heart and opening the heart to replace the valve. Many times, open-heart surgery is too risky for patients over 70 years old or with other conditions such as diabetes or COPD. Now, with clinical trials demonstrating the success of TAVR, interventional cardiologists in Kansas City are also using this method for patients who are younger and at lower risk. The benefits of this approach can include a faster recovery, less pain and fewer complications than open-heart surgery.
You will be under general anesthesia while undergoing the Trans Aortic Valve Replacement procedure. You will not be a candidate for this procedure if you have an infection in the heart or cannot tolerate blood thinning medications or other therapies used to prevent blood clots. Although this is a minimally invasive procedure, there are still risks involved such as bleeding, blood vessel complications, problems with the replacement valve, such as the valve slipping out of place or leaking, stroke, heart rhythm abnormalities (arrhythmias), kidney disease, heart attack, Infection and death. Be sure to speak with your TAVR hospital team so you can make an informed decision about the treatment plan.
To find out if Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation is an option for you, talk to your doctor or cardiologist about a referral to the HCA Midwest Health Structural Heart Clinic located at Research Medical Center.
When expertly diagnosed and treated, patients with aortic valve disease can experience an improved quality of life and even a longer life. For patients with severe aortic stenosis, with appropriate treatment, the symptoms can significantly improve or even resolve. Many patients who had to adjust their lifestyle due to severe symptoms are able to return to a normal lifestyle after an aortic valve replacement procedure.
After the procedure, many patients can expect to be in the hospital for about 3-5 days. Our inpatient cardiac rehab team will begin working with you the day of your procedure. For many people, normal activity can be resumed in about 10 days. Your TAVR team will give you specific follow-up instructions, but many times care includes:
- A phone call from your TAVR hospital care team a few days after discharge to check on your symptoms, medications and health.
- A follow-up office visit with your Kansas City TAVR doctor within 30 days of the procedure. This visit will likely include an echocardiogram to check your new valve. Other tests may also be ordered.
From there, your general cardiologist or primary care doctor will develop a follow-up care plan to fit your unique needs. Your heart should be checked yearly by a cardiologist.