Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)
A National Leader in Cardiac Care
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) is the name for a new, revolutionary procedure in cardiology and cardiac surgery that enables patients with a condition called severe aortic stenosis to receive a new heart valve without undergoing open-heart surgery.
Winthrop-University Hospital has been selected as only one of 70 hospitals nationwide to receive this new TAVR technology, and our skilled team of interventional cardiologists and cardio-thoracic surgeons is in place to offer this exciting new treatment to those for whom it is appropriate.
Out of the thousands of hospitals around the country, only those hospitals with the highest level of cardiac care -- like Winthrop-University Hospital -- were selected to perform this new, life-saving procedure.
Traditionally, the primary treatment for aortic stenosis has been surgery. However, certain patients with severe stenosis were considered too sick for surgery. Therefore, their conditions were considered hopeless.
Not anymore! As a result of a pivotal new Partner Trial, the FDA has approved the use of the Edwards’ Transcatheter Heart Valve, which utilizes a minimally invasive procedure to implant a new valve using a method very similar to the implantation of a stent. Therefore, these patients can now receive a new valve without surgery and there is now hope for those whose conditions were previously thought to be untreatable.
What is Severe Aortic Stenosis?
Severe aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic heart valve opening that does not allow the heart to pump blood normally. It can be caused by a birth defect, rheumatic fever, radiation, or it can be related to age.
In the elderly, severe aortic stenosis is often caused by the build-up of calcium deposits on the valve, causing it to become stiff and preventing it from opening and closing properly. When the valve doesn’t open and close completely, the heart must work harder and it eventually becomes weaker and cannot supply enough blood throughout the body. This often results in shortness of breath, fatigue, chronic heart failure and, if left untreated, death.
If people are otherwise healthy, they can be treated with surgery. But many people have other conditions related to age which makes surgery impossible. TAVR offers new hope.
How does TAVR work?
Rather than invasive surgery, transcatheter valve replacement uses a technique similar to the implantation of a stent to repair a blockage to one of the heart’s blood vessels. However, in the case of TAVR, a stent containing the new valve is fed through a catheter, or tube, through a large artery in a patient’s leg, up into the heart and then placed directly in the portion of the heart that contains the natural valve. The natural valve is pressed against the wall of the heart by the stent and the new valve is deployed and begins functioning immediately.
The TAVR procedure is carefully monitored and performed by a team of the most skilled experts that includes an interventional cardiologist and a cardio-thoracic surgeon. State-of-the-art imaging equipment is used to guide the catheter to the exact position within the heart valve opening in order to deploy the new valve at the most precise moment.
It is important to note that this is not a clinical trial, but an FDA-approved procedure. Unlike many trials, in which some patients receive the procedure and others do not on a “randomized” basis, anyone deemed an appropriate candidate for the valve WILL receive the valve.
Who is a candidate for TAVR valve replacement?
Your cardiologist is the first person to tell you whether you may be a candidate for transcatheter aortic valve replacement.
The Winthrop Cardiovascular Center has established a valve service where high risk patients can be evaluated by a team of cardiologists and cardiothoracic and vascular surgeons. However, the process is started “locally,” right in your own doctor’s office, where many of the preliminary tests should be performed. From there, your doctor will work closely with the Winthrop team to ensure that you receive the most appropriate treatment. Your doctor will remain involved every step of the way. And when the procedure is complete, your doctor will monitor your progress as you recover and gain strength.
If you have any questions, you are welcome to call one of our coordinators at the numbers listed below, or you may contact us at 1-866-WINTHROP for further details.
Clinic Coordinator – 516-877-5445
Surgical Coordinator – 516-663-2384
The TAVR Team at Winthrop
Scott Schubach, MD
Chairman, Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Kevin Marzo, MD
Chief, Division of Cardiology
Richard Schwartz, DO
Interventional Cardiologist, Director of Cardiovascular Outreach