TAVR stands for transcatheter aortic valve replacement. TAVR is an FDA-approved nonsurgical procedure for heart valve replacement in patients with aortic valve stenosis.
The aortic valve is replaced without removing the narrowed valve, opening the chest, making an incision in the heart or using a heart-lung machine. The new valve is delivered via a catheter through the femoral artery in the leg. The catheter is guided to the heart and placed, pushing the narrowed valve out of the way. The new valve expands and begins regulating blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body.
What is aortic valve stenosis?
Aortic valve stenosis occurs when the opening of a patient’s aortic valve is progressively narrowed. The heart is not able to pump the blood to rest of the body as required. As a result, the patient experiences chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, lightheadedness or dizziness, swollen ankles, and rapid or irregular heartbeat.
Once symptoms develop, a patient’s survival outlook decreases to 50 percent over two years if the valve is not replaced. Traditionally open heart surgery was the only option, but now for intermediate and high-risk patients, the aortic valve can be replaced with the TAVR procedure.
Who is eligible for TAVR?
To see if you qualify for TAVR, the clinical heart team will perform specialized tests. These include a computed tomography (CT) angiogram, cardiac catheterization, lung function test, heart ultrasound and blood work. The heart team is a collaborative group of specialists including a cardiac surgeon, interventional cardiologist, general cardiologist, radiologist, vascular surgeon and anesthesiologist.
At Kalispell Regional Medical Center, these tests can be completed in less than two days. During this time, the heart team members will evaluate the test results and decide if TAVR is the appropriate procedure for you. The heart team also will discuss risks and benefits with you. After a TAVR procedure, the typical hospital stay is two to three days.
For more information about the TAVR procedure or to learn about eligibility, call (406) 257-8992.