TAVR: A Better Way to Treat Aortic Stenosis

Aortic stenosis is a condition in which blood flow out of the heart is obstructed, often leading to shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, leg swelling or even heart failure

When the aortic valve in your heart cannot function properly due to a buildup of calcium, your risk of heart failure increases dramatically. This condition, aortic stenosis, hinders blood from flowing easily through your body, forcing your heart to work harder. In the past, open-heart surgery was the only way to replace the aortic valve. But at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, we offer a minimally invasive procedure for aortic valve replacement called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).

Prabhdeep Sandhu, M.D., an interventional cardiologist and director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Providence Saint Joseph, explains, “This is a well-established, minimally invasive way of treating aortic stenosis.”

Through a small incision in the thigh or groin, a thin catheter guides the new aortic valve to the heart. “Ninety-five percent of this procedure is accomplished through accessing blood vessels in the groin. Unlike open-heart surgery, this procedure is much easier for patients to recover from," Dr. Sandhu says.

“Usually they leave the hospital in 24 hours, rather than four to six days with open-heart surgery. And there is a much shorter recovery period at home as well.”

To determine whether TAVR or open-heart surgery is the best approach, “First we do a CT scan to see the blood vessels and other factors,” Dr. Sandhu explains, “and based on that we make the decision. While it used to be used mostly for high-risk patients who couldn’t endure open-heart surgery, the criteria have changed, and now it’s the choice for low- and intermediate-risk patients as well.”

The TAVR program at Providence Saint Joseph opened just over two years ago and already more than 100 patients have had the procedure here.

According to Lisa Laurent, M.D., chief medical officer at Providence Saint Joseph, “The TAVR program is yet another way to demonstrate our commitment to providing world-class heart care to the patients and communities we are privileged to serve.”

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