An expert team of heart specialists at Porter Regional Hospital is now offering some patients the option of having aortic heart valve replacement without undergoing open heart surgery – a significant advancement in heart care in Northwest Indiana.
The procedure is for patients who have advanced aortic stenosis – or hardening of the heart’s aortic valve. When calcium deposits build up on the aortic valve, the valve becomes thickened and narrowed, which can significantly affect the heart’s ability to effectively pump blood to the rest of the body.
The only treatment for advanced aortic stenosis is valve replacement, but some patients are not candidates for surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR), which remains the gold standard treatment. They may have other health conditions that prohibit them from having open heart surgery. Now, another option is available: transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), during which physicians replace the heart value by accessing the heart through an artery in the thigh.
The heart team at Porter Regional Hospital who performs TAVR includes interventional cardiologists Sandeep Sehgal, M.D., and Rishi Sukhija, M.D., and cardiothoracic surgeon Walid Khabbaz, M.D.
During the TAVR procedure, physicians place a surgical heart valve on the end of a catheter, and thread the catheter through the femoral artery in the thigh, up to the heart. The new valve is expanded in place of the diseased valve, and the catheter is removed. The procedure is done with high-tech image-guided equipment that enables the team to see inside the body without making large incisions.
TAVR requires a small incision in the upper thigh, and a small incision in the chest. The procedure itself takes about two hours, and patients can expect to spend up to two days in the hospital.
Aortic stenosis is a common public health problem affecting millions of people in the U.S. Up to 12 percent of people over the age of 75 have aortic stenosis. The condition is serious. When the aortic valve becomes narrowed and hardened, the heart must work harder to pump blood to the body through this narrowed path. Over time, this can lead to heart failure and death.
Symptoms of aortic stenosis include fatigue; difficulty walking short distances; lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting; swollen ankles and feet; rapid heartbeat; and chest pain. Most people with the condition find that they are no longer taking part in the physical activities they used to enjoy.
Patients should have regular check-ups with their primary care provider, especially if they feel any symptoms of aortic stenosis. Cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, as well as nurse navigators with Porter’s Heart Valve Center, provide expert care to patients facing an aortic stenosis diagnosis. Together with a patient’s primary care provider, they help patients decide whether SAVR or TAVR is the best option for aortic valve replacement.
Patients who need a primary care provider or cardiologist can visit porterphysiciangroup.com, or call 1-844-PPG-DOCS.
Porter Regional Hospital is an accredited chest pain center, is certified in atrial fibrillation, has a 2017 Get With the Guidelines Heart Failure Gold-Plus designation, is a designated Blue Distinction Center+ for Cardiac Care, is certified in advanced heart failure by The Joint Commission, is a Primary Stroke Center and an accredited chest pain center, and is certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.