The heart of the matter: Minimally invasive heart procedure gets patients back to their lives quickly

February 10, 2020 Providence News Team

Chelsea Zimmerman, NP, Jim Gardiner and Dr. Sanjay Bhojraj


In this article: 

  • Aortic stenosis, a common, but serious heart valve issue in seniors, can be treated by a non-invasive procedure called a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR).

  • Providence heart experts say the procedure is a great alternative to surgery. 

  • Patients who have had a TAVR at Providence’s Mission Hospital say it vastly improved their quality of life.

The moment had finally come for Jim Gardiner. After waiting for sixteen years for a noninvasive procedure to address his aortic stenosis, Jim was able to have the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure he needed at Mission Hospital.

What is aortic stenosis?

This common, yet critical valve condition is a narrowing of the aortic valve opening, leading to restricted blood flow from the left ventricle to the aorta. According to the American Heart Association, 20% of older adults in the U.S. have aortic stenosis, and it’s most common in those over 65. The narrowing is most often caused by a calcium buildup in the valve as you age.

Symptoms include: 

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty walking short distances
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Rapid fluttering heartbeat
  • Reduced ability to do normal daily activities
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen ankles and feet
  • Trouble sleeping


Feeling like himself again after 16 years

In October 2019, Jim became the first patient to undergo TAVR at Mission Hospital under the expert care of Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Sanjay Bhojraj and Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Sevak Darbinian. The procedure corrected the narrowing in Jim’s main artery which was blocking blood flow and dramatically enhanced his quality of life.

Diagnosed with aortic stenosis in 2003, Jim managed his condition with medication and yearly visits to his cardiologist, but he was often exhausted. “I couldn’t handle long walks without having to stop and rest,” said Jim, “and I couldn’t do my favorite activity – playing golf any more. I just ran out of gas.”

With TAVR the aortic valve is repaired via a small incision in the chest or groin. “It is game-changing technology,” says Dr. Bhojraj. “Jim was walking within hours of the procedure and went home the next day.” “Though surgical results are typically excellent, many patients are not surgical candidates, so TAVR is an effective option that allows patients to get back to their lives quickly,” said Dr. Sevak Darbinian.

Nelofar Siddiqui, NP, and Dr. Sevak Darbinian

“l feel great and I’m ready to hit the golf course,” said Jim, who credits his care team with changing his life. Cardiovascular Nurse Practitioner Chelsea Zimmerman was with Jim throughout the process, guiding him through preliminary testing and following up after his appointments. “I was so impressed with the doctors and nurses. They took superb care of me and encouraged me every step of the way.”

Dr. Bhojraj is excited for the future of the Heart and Vascular Institute at Mission Hospital. “This is the first of many innovations,” he said. “We have world-class heart care right in our backyard.” 

Find a doctor

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above and are concerned about your heart health, find the cardiologist that’s right for you in our provider directory. Through Providence Express Care Virtual, you can also access a full range of healthcare services. 

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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

About the Author

The Providence News Team brings you the updates to keep you informed about what's happening across the organizational ecosystem. From partnerships to new doctor announcements, we are committed to keeping you informed.

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