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Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

Call for more information: 770-219-5416

Another Option for Aortic Valve Replacement: TAVR

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.  The Heart Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) offers an innovative treatment for this condition by replacing the diseased valve with a minimally-invasive approach.

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.

“Hardening or calcification of the aortic valve typically worsens with age,” says J. Jeffrey Marshall, MD, FACC, MSCAI, interventional cardiologist at The Heart Center of NGMC.  “If a person has severe aortic stenosis, he or she may experience shortness of breath with exertion, swelling in the feet and legs, chest discomfort, fatigue, lightheadedness or even fainting.”

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

Surveying the Treatment Options

Traditionally, the standard of care for patients with aortic stenosis was open-heart surgery to replace the valve.  Patients are placed on a heart-lung bypass machine, an incision is made in the breastbone, and the defective valve is removed and replaced with a tissue valve or manmade valve.

Aortic valve replacement through open-heart surgery has saved millions of lives and is still the most common method of treatment for aortic stenosis, typically used in patients who are younger and without other health problems. However, because of the invasive nature of this surgical procedure, many patients weren’t considered candidates, leaving them without a viable treatment option. Failure to replace the aortic valve in patients with symptoms and severe aortic stenosis leads to poor survival—worse than with many cancers.

For patients who are considered intermediate or at high risk for surgery, transcatheter aortic valve replacement, commonly called TAVR, may be a good treatment option.  

“During the past decade, TAVR has become a popular, less invasive way of replacing the aortic valve,” says Prad Tummala, MD, FACC, FSCAI, interventional cardiologist at The Heart Center of NGMC. “The procedure involves accessing the heart from an artery in the leg via a flexible tube called a catheter. The new heart valve is placed in the position of the diseased aortic valve.  This procedure is less invasive, leaves hardly any scar and the recovery is much faster.”

After TAVR, patients typically go home within two to four days and are usually fully recovered within a week or two. In addition to surviving longer, they have a much better quality of life with less shortness of breath and more energy.

“TAVR is a perfect procedure for patients with aortic stenosis,” says Daniel Winston, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon with Northeast Georgia Physicians Group.  “It can certainly improve quality of life and longevity of life. In addition, it offers a much less invasive alternative to surgery.”

Why We Offer TAVR

At The Heart Center of NGMC, we believe all patients should have viable treatment options.  TAVR provides an option for patients who previously were considered untreatable and for those who would have a difficult time recovering from traditional open-heart surgery.

“For many years, aortic stenosis has claimed the lives of millions of people who were not candidates for valve replacement surgery because of higher risk,” says Kyle Thompson, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon with Northeast Georgia Physicians Group.  “TAVR has saved the lives of many people who have not had options in the past.  The advancements of technology in this field have made treatment of aortic stenosis markedly safer over the past decade and have improved the survival and quality of life for patients worldwide.”

To request an appointment with a cardiologist at The Heart Center of NGMC, call 770-534-2020 or visit heartngmc.org/appointment.

Questions?

Call the Heart & Vascular Services department at 770-219-5416 or fill out our contact form for more information.

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