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TAVR - A Minimally Invasive Heart Treatment
The University of Vermont Medical Center offers a heart surgery treatment called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement system (TAVR). Also known as Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI), the treatment is designed to provide a minimally invasive, non-surgical treatment option for patients with symptomatic, severe aortic stenosis who are at intermediate to high risk or ineligible for open-heart surgery.
- The treatment has been performed in over 50,000 patients in more than 34 countries.
- The Corevalve TAVR/TAVI treatment is FDA approved for patients who are ineligible for open-heart surgery.
- The Corevalve Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) treatment is also available to patients who are intermediate to high risk for open-heart surgery.
- The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have also added TAVR to their guidelines for doctors.
Aortic Stenosis: Symptoms and Treatment
Primarily affecting the older population, aortic valve stenosis is a heart condition that occurs when the aortic valve does not properly open and close. While the heart initially compensates for stenosis by thickening its walls to help push blood through the valve, eventually this weakens the heart and leads to an insufficient supply of oxygen-rich blood and sometimes causes a back-up of blood into the lungs. Untreated, aortic valve stenosis can lead to serious heart problems including heart failure and even death.
Aortic Stenosis Symptoms
This condition restricts blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. The reduced blood flow increases pressure within the heart, causing the heart to weaken and function poorly.
Symptoms of the disease can include:
- Chest pain or pressure
- Heart murmur
- Shortness of breath during activity
- Heart palpitations
When aortic stenosis becomes severe and symptoms develop, it is life-threatening. According to research, without effective treatment, as many as 50% of aortic stenosis patients with severe symptoms die within one year. Approximately 100,000 Americans and 300,000 people worldwide have been diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis, and approximately one-third of these patients are deemed at too high a risk for open-heart surgery.
Treatment Options for Aortic Stenosis
We are fortunate that skilled surgeons can replace these valves with prosthetic valves that work very effectively. The surgery is life-saving, but the rigors of open-heart surgery can be too much for some people, especially older individuals. For those individuals in whom the risk of surgery is too great, The UVM Medical Center offers TAVI, a minimally invasive treatment.
TAVI: a minimally-invasive treatment option at The UVM Medical Center
During the TAVR/TAVI procedure, a prosthetic valve device is advanced to the heart from a vessel in the leg of a patient called the femoral artery. First the device is compressed and loaded into a thin tube called a catheter and inserted into the opening in the femoral artery. While the heart is beating, this valve is carefully threaded up through the body and positioned inside the patient's native aortic valve. When released, this valve expands spontaneously and takes over the function of the aortic valve.
Recovery from this procedure is much shorter than open-heart surgery, because the heart has not been stopped and the chest has not been opened in the manner necessary to replace the aortic valve surgically.