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.
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 Excela’s 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.