Fresno, CA, May 9, 2014 – Approximately 1.5 million people in the United States suffer from aortic stenosis (AS), a narrowing or obstruction of the aortic heart valve that prevents normal blood flow. Among this population, an estimated 300,000 have severe AS, which can lead to debilitating symptoms and, if left untreated, death within two to three years of symptom onset.
While surgery is considered the gold standard treatment for replacing a diseased valve, some patients are deemed high-risk or too sick to undergo open-chest surgery. Fortunately, there is a new nonsurgical treatment option available – Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). In April, the heart team at Saint Agnes performed the Valley's first adult TAVR procedure.
The TAVR procedure enables the placement of a collapsible aortic heart valve into the body via a tube-based delivery system that is inserted through either an incision in the leg (transfemoral) or through a small incision in the chest between the ribs (transapical). The valve is designed to replace a patient's diseased aortic valve without the need for open-chest surgery and without stopping the heart.
Saint Agnes committed to bringing TAVR technology to local patients when it opened the Central Valley Heart Valve Clinic earlier this year. A partnership between the Medical Center, local cardiothoracic surgeons and cardiologists, the Clinic offers individualized assessment and treatment of patients diagnosed with heart valve disease. Among these are high-risk patients who – until now – had limited treatment options.
"This is exciting news for Valley patients who suffer from severe AS because it brings new hope and the potential for lengthening their lives," says Cardiothoracic Surgeon Richard Gregory, MD, Medical Director, Saint Agnes Cardiothoracic Surgery and Central Valley Heart Valve Clinic.
The TAVR procedure is extremely specialized and requires the collaboration of a multidisciplinary team to achieve optimal patient outcomes. At Saint Agnes, this includes a combined team of cardiothoracic surgeons and interventional cardiologists. Since completing their comprehensive training program, the team has performed two successful TAVR cases.