Valley Heart & Vascular Institute - Treatments & Procedures

Valve Replacement an Option for More Patients Thanks to Minimally Invasive “TAVR” Procedure

About TAVR

Click here for the TAVR Patient Resource Guide and FAQs.

TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to treat patients with the only FDA-approved transcatheter heart valve, the Edwards SAPIEN. The culmination of more than 50 years of continuous refinement in heart valve technology and treatment, TAVR provides an important new treatment option for patients with severe, symptomatic aortic valve stenosis, for whom traditional valve replacement surgery is not an option.

Janet Strain, M.D., Director of Valley’s Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, says patients with aortic stenosis often develop debilitating symptoms that may include difficulty walking or performing normal day-to-day activities. The disease occurs when calcification builds up in the valve, causing it to narrow. As a result, blood cannot flow through the valve efficiently, and the heart must work harder to compensate.

“Aortic stenosis may eventually become life-threatening,” explains Dr. Strain. “Without valve replacement, many of these patients do not survive more than an average of two years after the onset of symptoms.”

For patients who are considered high-risk or inoperable due to poor overall health, there have been few available alternatives to improve longevity and quality of life. TAVR has changed that.

How Is the Procedure Performed?

TAVR is minimally invasive, requiring only a small incision in the groin, through which the Edwards SAPIEN aortic valve (loaded on a deflated balloon) is threaded from the groin artery up to the heart. The balloon is then inflated to position the new aortic valve into place in the heart, where it displaces the patient’s diseased aortic valve. The patient’s heart continues to beat during the procedure, thus eliminating the need for a heart-lung bypass machine.

“In clinical trials of more than 1,000 patients, those treated with the Edwards SAPIEN valve had improved survival and improved quality of life at one year, as compared to patients not treated with the valve,” notes Dr. Strain.

The Valley Hospital Heart and Vascular Institute’s highest recognition (three stars) by the Society for Thoracic Surgeons for aortic valve replacement – given to only 5.9 percent of cardiac programs nationwide – illustrates the quality and clinical excellence of Valley’s cardiac services.

“Our expertise and the number of complex cases we treat successfully enable us to understand and decide, better than cardiac teams at many other facilities, which high-risk patients would benefit from a minimally invasive approach, such as TAVR, and which patients should undergo classical aortic valve replacement surgery,” notes Alex Zapolanski, MD, Director of Cardiac Surgery.

First Patient

Selma Milton of Leonia is the first patient at The Valley Hospital Heart and Vascular Institute to receive a new aortic heart valve put into place using a new procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).

Shown (from left to right): Alex Zapolanski, M.D., Director of Cardiac Surgery; Charlie and Selma Milton; and Janet Strain, M.D., Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory.

Shown (from left to right): Alex Zapolanski, M.D., Director of Cardiac Surgery; Charlie and Selma Milton;
and Janet Strain, M.D., Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory.

“Dr. Strain has been my husband’s cardiologist for many years and Valley is our family hospital, so even though I was nervous about being the first to have this procedure at Valley, I knew I was in good hands and trusted my doctors and nurses,” says Mrs. Milton.

After a three-day hospitalization, Mrs. Milton is now regaining strength with the assistance of her “very special man,” her husband of 67 years, Charlie Milton. She has been able to cook some meals and will meet her newest great-grandchild, her sixth, later this month when he arrives for a visit. Feeling better after her procedure, she and Charlie intend to return to visiting residents at the Van Dyke Nursing Home in Ridgewood, an activity they have enjoyed for the past 28 years.

 
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