CHI Health Nebraska Heart has completed more than 400 TAVR procedures – the most in the state of Nebraska, and is the only TAVR research site in Nebraska.
Up to 1.5 million people in the United States suffer from aortic stenosis, a progressive disease that affects the aortic valve of their hearts. Approximately 250,000 of these patients suffer from severe symptomatic aortic stenosis, often developing debilitating symptoms that can restrict normal day-to-day activities such as waling short distances or climbing stairs.
Patients with severe aortic stenosis may experience debilitating symptoms such as:
- Severe shortness of breath leading to gasping even at rest
- Chest pain or tightness
- Extreme fatigue
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Difficulty exercise
- Rapid or irregular heart beat
Diagnosis of Aortic Stenosis
Identification of severe aortic stenosis is done by examining the heart and listening for a heart murmur, which is typical of the disease. This can be confirmed by using imaging tests such as an echocardiogram. Receiving an appropriated diagnosis and getting treated quickly is critical, as once patients begin exhibiting symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and can be life-threatening.
TAVR – Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement
For patients who have been deemed intermediate risk or greater for traditional open-heart surgery by a surgeon, an innovative procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is now available as a treatment option.
Candidates for TAVR
Patients who have severe aortic stenosis and have one or more of the following may be a candidate for TAVR:
- Advanced age
- Previous radiation to the chest
- Frailty or debility
- Heart Failure or Inotropic Therapy
- Previous sternotomy
- Porcelain aorta
- Renal insufficiency
- Other significant comorbidities
Nebraska Heart Valve Team
The partnership between cardiac surgeon, interventional cardiologist, anesthesiologist and echocardiographer establishes the core of the TAVR heart team. This team of specialists from various disciplines work together to ensure optimal patient outcomes. This multi-disciplinary approach to patient care is essential to TAVR, as each specialist contributes an important area of expertise that plays an integral role in the collective care process.
As the first hospital in Nebraska to offer the TAVR therapy, members of the Heart Valve Team have participated in a rigorous training program designed to ensure that the TAVR technology is utilized by skilled operators, so that optimal patient outcomes are achieved.
If you feel that you may be a candidate for the TAVR procedure, please talk with your primary care physician about the breakthrough TAVR treatment available at Nebraska Heart. You may also contact Nebraska Heart’s TAVR Coordinator at (402) 328-3881.
Potential candidates will be evaluated by a joint team of cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, nurses and technologists.
How many TAVR procedures have been performed?
Since the initial TAVR in 2002, over 50,000 procedures have been performed worldwide by multidisciplinary heart teams worldwide.
When was TAVR approved?
In November 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Edwards SAPIEN aortic valve replacement device for use in treating patients with severe native aortic valve stenosis who have been determined by a cardiac surgeon to be inoperable for open (conventional surgery) aortic valve replacement, and in whom con-existing illnesses would not preclude the expected benefit from correction of the aortic stenosis.
Does Medicare/Medicaid cover TAVR?
Yes, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved the TAVR procedure for coverage on May 1, 2012.
What are the risks with the TAVR procedure?
There are still risks associated with TAVR, as with surgical aortic valve replacement. These risks should be taken into consideration when discussing the TAVR procedure with your cardiologist.
How long does the TAVR procedure take?
The average time required to perform the procedure is 4 to 5 hours.
How long does it take to recover after having the procedure?
Recovery time averages from one to two weeks. The TAVR procedure is performed in the hospital, with the patient asleep under general anesthesia. It generally takes about 4 to 5 hours. The animation of the procedure above shows how the artificial aortic valve is placed by means of a catheter (flexible thin tube) from within the arteries to the heart itself, to treat the aortic stenosis.