• TAVR Offers New Hope to Cardiac Patients

    The Heart Center as San Antonio Regional Hospital offers a promising alternative for patients with aortic valve stenosis who might not be candidates for traditional valve replacement surgery. Aortic valve stenosis is a narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve. The valve acts in a way that is similar to an old camera shutter, with several pieces (leaflets) that open and close. In some patients, the leaflets in the aortic valve become stiff, reducing their ability to fully open and close and allow normal blood flow. Eventually, the heart becomes weaker, increasing the risk for heart failure. TAVR (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement) is considered a life-saving procedure for patients who are elderly or have complicating medical issues which make open heart surgery too risky for traditional valve replacement. The San Antonio TAVR team includes cardiologists and cardiac surgeons who evaluate and mage these otherwise inoperable patients to determine whether they are candidates for TAVR. “After having good success in clinical trials on high risk patients, the TAVR procedure is now being used at select hospitals for high to moderate risk patients,” said Hossein Dehghani, MD, and Medical Director of San Antonio’s Coronary Care Unit. TAVR is a less invasive procedure that slows physicians to perform the valve replacement via a balloon catheter that is threaded up to the heart through a small incision in the groin. The first two patients to receive the TAVR procedure at San Antonio were Andres Lopez and Syed Shah. Mr. Lopez, 89, was a strong working man his entire life, and had beaten cancer and other health issues. He had no idea he even had a heart issue until a routine physical led to a diagnosis of severe aortic stenosis due to an undiagnosed cardiac murmur. Syed Shah, 81, had advanced symptoms and other complicating medical issues. Most days he was unable to even get out of bed because the moment he put his foot down he couldn’t breathe due to the heart failure that he developed. Both Mr. Shah and Mr. Syed were released from San Antonio just a few days after the procedure and are doing well. Recovery is minimal for most patients. “TAVR offers an opportunity for a better quality of life to patients with aortic stenosis who cannot undergo open heart surgery,” said Nan Wang, MD, Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery.