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Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

Surgical Intervention by Trusted Cardiologists

Independence Health System offers an advanced treatment for aortic valve stenosis known as Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). This minimally invasive procedure is a critical part of our comprehensive cardiovascular care, as it allows us to replace damaged aortic valves without the need for open-heart surgery. It's especially beneficial for patients who are currently at intermediate or high risk for traditional open-heart surgery.

What is Aortic Stenosis?

Aortic Stenosis is a common heart valve problem affecting millions of people in the United States. It is estimated that up to 12.4% of people over age 75 have aortic stenosis and it is most common in men.

Over time, the aortic valve becomes stiff, reducing the ability to fully open and close. This results in the heart working harder to push blood through the aortic valve to the body. Eventually, this weakens the heart and increases the risk of heart failure because the heart cannot supply enough blood to the body.

Aortic stenosis can be caused by age, calcium build-up, radiation therapy, infection of the heart, birth defects, and rheumatic fever.

As the heart works harder and less oxygen-rich blood flows through the body, symptoms may result. Symptoms can include, chest pain, rapid/fluttering heartbeat, trouble breathing or feeling short of breath, feeling dizzy or light-headed, fainting, difficulty walking short distances, swollen ankles or feet, not doing activities you used to enjoy, difficulty sleeping or the need to sleep sitting up. Because these symptoms are common to other health problems, it’s important to discuss them with your doctor.

How is Aortic Stenosis Treated With a Transcatheter Heart Valve Replacement (TAVR)?

For decades, the previous standard of care has been open-heart surgery for aortic valve replacement. TAVR offers an alternative method for many patients. During this minimally invasive approach, the valve is typically implanted through the femoral artery, although other access points may be used. TAVR can be an effective option to improve the quality of life in patients who otherwise have limited choices for the repair of their aortic valve.

Without aortic valve replacement, severe aortic stenosis is a life-threatening disease and carries a poor short-term prognosis, with a survival rate as low as 50% within two years of symptom development.

Prior to treatment, patients are evaluated within the Structural Heart Program by a multidisciplinary team that includes cardiothoracic surgeons, interventional cardiologists, cardiovascular imagers, cardiac anesthesiologists and nurse navigators. The team reviews cardiac imaging, coronary angiography and CT scans along with clinical history to make the best clinical decision for each patient.

A TAVR typically takes less than an hour to complete, and patients can expect to spend less time in the hospital after TAVR compared to traditional surgical valve replacement.

How Is TAVR Performed?

During the TAVR procedure, a catheter is inserted through a small incision in the leg or chest to guide the new valve toward the heart. Once in place, the new valve begins to function immediately, improving blood flow and circulation. This procedure can be used to relieve a variety of symptoms caused by severe aortic stenosis or other chronic cardiac conditions. Patients who undergo this procedure should expect to notice relief from the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue and chronic low energy
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Chest pain

Older individuals, smokers, and those with high blood pressure and/or cholesterol are at increased risk of developing aortic stenosis. If you’ve been noticing any of the symptoms listed above, we recommend reaching out to for diagnostic testing.

In addition to a physical exam, severe aortic stenosis can be diagnosed in several ways, the most common being an echocardiogram and/or cardiac catheterization (angiography). As part of your evaluation for valve replacement, your provider may also suggest that you receive an electrocardiogram (EKG), chest X-ray, or CT scan.

Schedule a Consultation at Independence Health System

For those seeking cardiovascular care, Independence Health System provides comprehensive services to promote a heart-healthy life. To determine if TAVR is right for you, schedule a consultation.

Independence Health System is committed to providing advanced treatments to help patients live healthier lives. Contact our cardiology team at 866-620-6761 to request care.

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