New option for patients too sick for open heart surgery - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

New option for patients too sick for open heart surgery

New option for patients too sick for open heart surgery

Posted: Updated:
(04/21/14) - A new, minimally invasive procedure is offering hope to the thousands who need valve replacements, for heart conditions so severe, they are usually considered inoperable.

Barbara Roy could not do even simple household tasks like ironing. "I'd probably iron a couple pieces and then have to come out here and sit down and rest."

Concerned, she says she visited her doctor, who told her that fatigue was caused by severe aortic stenosis, "I didn't think I was going to make it. I couldn't breathe."

Because of Barbara's age, 82, and other health problems, she was considered a high risk patient, "said no way could I ever be operated on."

But, left untreated, Dr. Augusto Villa says 50 percent of patients, like Barbara, will die within two years, "Their prognosis is extremely poor. It's as poor as lung cancer. In five years, only 4 percent will survive."

Now there's a new option for patients who can't have open heart surgery, known as transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, Villa says, "I think it's an amazing, amazing technology."

A balloon catheter is placed through either the groin or ribs. Once in position, it inflates, causing the placement of the artificial heart valve and restoring blood flow. 

A month after surgery, Barbara is back doing chores, "I cook. I do dishes. I do laundry."
Unlike traditional surgery, the heart continues to beat during this new procedure, and there's no need to place a patient on a heart-lung machine.

Patients can go home in four-to-five days and expect to get back to normal activities in one to two weeks.
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