Aortic stenosis is a condition that results from narrowing of the aortic valve of the heart. This valve normally allows blood flow to be pumped from the main chamber of your heart to the rest of your body. When this valve becomes significantly narrowed, it can put an increased amount of stress and pressure on the heart muscle. This can lead to symptoms of chest discomfort, shortness of breath, leg swelling, fatigue, lightheadedness, syncope (passing out spells), and even sudden death.
TAVI or TAVR stands for transcatheter aortic valve replacement. Currently, this is an option for patients with severe aortic stenosis causing symptoms that are too high risk for standard valve replacement surgery.
During a TAVI or TAVR procedure, a catheter about the size of a pen, is inserted in the artery in the leg and carefully passed up into the heart. One type of TAVR valve, made of bovine (cow) tissue and supported on a metal stent, is then implanted inside the narrowed valve resulting in a normal functioning aortic valve. With a TAVR procedure, the patient does not need the chest opened for surgery or put on a heart-lung (bypass) machine.
Is TAVI/TAVR safe?
The TAVI/TAVR procedure has been done in over 50,000 patients worldwide. It was FDA approved in November 2011. In the research trials evaluating TAVI/TAVR, it was shown to significantly allow patients to live longer and with better quality of life when compared to treating with medicines only. As with any heart procedure, TAVI/TAVR has its own risks. These risks can be discussed with your physician at the time of your appointment.
Where is TAVI/TAVR being done? Who does this procedure?
Currently, the FDA is allowing TAVI/TAVR to be done at hospitals with a high level of cardiac and heart surgery experience. The procedure is performed by a team of physicians including both cardiologists and heart surgeons. At this time, Dr. Ravi Ramana of Heart Care Centers, is performing this procedure at Advocate Christ Medical Center.