About Aortic Stenosis

Aortic stenosis is a common problem that prevents proper opening of the heart’s aortic valve and affects up to 1.5 million people in the United States. Here at Georgia Heart Institute, we offer an innovative treatment for this condition by replacing the diseased valve through a minimally invasive procedure performed in our cardiac cath lab in Gainesville.

What is aortic stenosis?

Aortic stenosis occurs when the aortic valve of the heart thickens and hardens, which makes it more difficult for the valve to open. This restricts blood flow from the left ventricle to the aorta, and all the vital organs of the body.

What are the signs and symptoms of aortic stenosis?

People with aortic stenosis often have a heart murmur that may be present for years before aortic stenosis becomes severe. Signs include:

  • Heart murmur
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue

Aortic stenosis can lead to heart failure. At Georgia Heart Institute, our comprehensive program brings together specialists in structural heart conditions, like aortic stenosis, including heart failure specialists, interventional cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons to ensure that your whole heart is cared for and the approach to your care is unique.

TAVR at Georgia Heart Institute

A minimally invasive procedure performed at the cardiac cath lab at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, TAVR involves placing a new valve inside the diseased valve. Similar to placing a stent in an artery, a new, fully collapsible valve is placed using a catheter that is threaded through an artery in the groin or the chest.

At Georgia Heart Institute, we believe all patients should have viable treatment options to ensure a lifetime of heart health. Our multidisciplinary approach to heart and vascular care paired with our commitment to life-saving innovations has made us a leader in offering minimally invasive treatment options for patients for whom surgery is not an option.

How does TAVR work?

During the procedure, a specialized interventional cardiologist will make a small incision, usually in the neck, groin or chest, and then guide a small catheter tube in through your artery to reach the valve in your heart. From there, they will place a replacement valve to ensure proper function of the heart. Many patients are up and about the day of or the day after this procedure.

What is recovery like from TAVR?

Patients may stay a day or two after surgery in ICU for monitoring to ensure that the replacement valve is working well. Depending on their progress, they might move to a hospital room after for a day or two just to ensure they are ready to go back to normal life. Many patients who undergo TAVR feel an immediate improvement to their energy levels and quality of life.

All patients who undergo a procedure like TAVR or open heart surgery are qualified to be a part of our Cardiac Rehabilitation program. This program connects patients to a community of support and gives patients access to exercise and nutrition regimens with clinical oversight to ensure safety.

Who is a candidate for TAVR?

In the past, when a patient is not a strong candidate for open-heart surgery, they had few viable treatment options for aortic stenosis.

Your cardiologist at Georgia Heart Institute can help determine what the best approach is for your condition. If minimally invasive approach and the reduced recovery time is the best option for your case, you will work with the interventional cardiologists at Georgia Heart Institute, our clinically trained patient navigators and our cardiac rehabilitation program to ensure the best outcomes for you.

Should I choose TAVR or aortic valve repair?

Only you and your cardiologist can decide what the best approach is for you, however TAVR is now approved for patients of all ages with aortic stenosis and studies have shown that it provides equivalent outcomes to heart surgery.

What’s most important is that you can rest assured that we offer the most advanced options available across the region to treat aortic valve stenosis. Through the cardiothoracic surgeons of Northeast Georgia Physicians Group, we offer robotic aortic valve repair and replacement, which significantly reduces recovery times and pain for patients. We also offer the BASILICA procedure, which is a special technique that makes TAVR safer for patients who are especially frail, giving hope to patients who may not have been candidates before.

Why choose Georgia Heart Institute?

A regional leader in minimally invasive cardiothoracic surgery, our interventional cardiologists and cardiovascular and thoracic surgeons work together to develop a treatment approach for our patients that will lead to a safe and successful outcome. Our surgeons have a combined 100 years of experience and many of them are pioneers in minimally invasive approaches to cardiothoracic surgery. Paired with our interventional cardiology team, which is specially trained in catheter-based treatments for structural heart diseases, we analyze each patient’s unique case carefully and design a unique approach.

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