Advanced Cardiac Care Options, Close to Home

Until now, patients with severe aortic stenosis have had to give up much of what makes life enjoyable. But a new at Trident Medical Center, called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), means they won’t have to give up hope.

At Trident, patients living in the North Charleston region have access to an experienced TAVR team close to home for this promising procedure for those considered too high risk for traditional heart valve replacement, or those who were previously considered inoperable.

A New Treatment Option

While open-heart aortic valve replacement surgery is the gold standard treatment for severe symptomatic native aortic valve stenosis, there are patients who are not candidates for open-chest surgery because of factors such as age, history of heart disease, frailty or other health issues. For these patients, a new therapy called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) may be an option. TAVR is a procedure that allows a specially trained TAVR team to replace a diseased aortic heart valve without open-heart surgery. They do this by using a balloonexpandable heart valve placed into the heart through a catheter. A catheter is a small tube, which goes into an artery through a small cut, in this case, in the thigh.

The TAVR team will conduct a comprehensive evaluation to determine whether this procedure is an appropriate therapeutic option for patients with severe aortic stenosis. In certain cases, TAVR may not be an option because of co-existing medical conditions or disease processes that would prevent the patient from benefitting as expected or because the risks outweigh the benefits. For those who are candidates for TAVR, this therapy may provide relief from the often debilitating symptoms associated with severe symptomatic native aortic valve stenosis.

Aortic Stenosis

In elderly patients, severe symptomatic aortic stenosis is often caused by the build-up of calcium (mineral deposits) on the aortic valve’s leaflets (flaps of tissue that open and close to regulate the one-way flow of blood through the aortic valve). This build-up of calcium on the leaflets impairs the aortic valve’s ability to fully open and close. As a result, the narrowed valve allows less oxygen-rich blood to flow from the lungs to the brain and rest of the body which may cause symptoms like severe shortness of breath and extreme fatigue.

Understanding the Risks

TAVR is a significant procedure involving general anesthesia, and placement of the valve is associated with specific contraindications as well as serious adverse effects, including risks of death, stroke, damage to the artery used for insertion of the valve, major bleeding, and other life-threatening and serious events. In addition, the longevity of the valve’s function is not yet known. For these reasons, the risks and benefits are carefully assessed by the TAVR Team and Valve Clinic physicians, and then discussed with the patient so he or she can make an
informed decision about the treatment plan.

TAVR Facts

Benefits of TAVR

  • Improves quality of life.
  • Minimally invasive procedure.
  • Repairs the valve without removing the old, damaged valve.

TAVR Procedure

Somewhat similar to a stent placed in an artery, the TAVR approach delivers a fully collapsible replacement valve to the valve site through a cahteter. Once the new valve is expanded, it pushes the old valve leaflets out of the way and the tissue in the replacement valve takes over the job of regulating blood flow.

Patient Experience

A patient's experience with a TAVR is comparable to a heart catheterization perfromed through the groin in terms of doen time and recovery and will likely require a shorter hospital stay (average 3 - 4 days).

To learn more about TAVR at Trident Medical Center, or to discuss whether or not you're a candidate for the procedure, contact Tim Buck, RN, Trident Valve Clinic Coordinator: