transcatheter aortic valve replacement(TAVR)

overview

When your heart valve is too narrow to allow blood to flow through it, you may have a disease called aortic stenosis. 

Usually, patients are treated with surgical aortic valve replacement, but there are some people for whom it's too risky to have an open-heart. In those cases, a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) can be a good option. TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure used to replace the aortic valve and treat aortic stenosis. It results in a smaller incision than tradition open heart surgery, and it takes less time, which may result in a shorter recovery time. 

The aortic valve typically opens and closes freely. In some older people, the valve can grow stiff because of calcium buildup. If you have aortic stenosis and it’s not treated, your heart valve will become weaker. You’ll experience fatigue, dizziness, chest pain or pressure, a heart murmur, shortness of breath during activity, heart palpitations and fainting. 

Without effective treatment like a TAVR, as many as 50% of patients with severe aortic stenosis die within 2 years.

what to expect

Before you have a TAVR procedure, you’ll have a few medical tests, such as:

  • A cardiac catheterization, to check the arteries in your heart.
  • A CAT scan of your chest and abdomen to help our team figure out the right size for replacement valve 
  • Pulmonary function testing done to check how you breathe. 
  • Lab tests will be done to check your kidney function, electrolytes and blood counts. 

TAVR is done in the cardiac cath (catheterization) lab. The anesthesiologist, cardiologist and cardiac surgeon work together to perform the procedure. 

You’ll be completely asleep under general anesthesia throughout the procedure. Your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing will be monitored closely. 

During a TAVR, the new valve is placed inside the old valve with the use of a catheter that’s treaded through a small incision in your groin. The valve can also be inserted through a small opening in the chest. 

The procedure takes a few hours, usually less time than open-heart surgery.

recovery

After the valve replacement it complete, you’ll be taken to the intensive care unit (ICU) to be looked after. 

You’ll be in the ICU for 1 to 2 days, and then moved to the cardiac step-down unit, where you’ll work with physical and occupational therapists and cardiac rehab staff to start moving around again. 

Most patients are prescribed a blood thinner (aspirin and Plavix) after the procedure, which you’ll keep taking until your doctor says it’s OK to stop.

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