TAVR – A less invasive treatment for Aortic Stenosis


In one year, a person’s aortic valve opens and closes more than 30 million times, as the heart beats 60 times per minute. Dr. Lee MacDonald of South Denver Cardiology in Littleton, said the heart works hard and a 75-year-old whose aortic valve has opened and closed more than 2 billion times can sometimes run into an issue known as Aortic Stenosis (AS).

“Think about it, this valve literally opens and closes to keep the heart pumping about 60 times a minute,” MacDonald said. “Aortic Stenosis can cause this valve to become stiff, causing someone to feel fatigued and have chest discomfort. In more severe cases, a patient might be passing out, or can die. AS is a very serious condition and the symptoms of it should not be ignored.”

AS is one of the most common and most serious valve disease problems a person can have. Seen in older patients, MacDonald, an interventional cardiologist, said AS restricts the blood flow from the left ventricle to the aorta. Someone suffering from AS might be breathless, have chest pain, fainting spells, fatigue or a heart murmur.

MacDonald said there are no medications or medical therapies to treat AS, instead a patient has two options – have open heart surgery, or have a procedure known as TAVR, or Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement.

MacDonald said he’s proud that South Denver Cardiology is able to offer patients the TAVR option, which is less invasive than open-heart surgery.

MacDonald said at one time the only option to repair the aortic valve was through open-heart surgery. This meant once the chest was cut open, the heart was stopped while surgeons cut out the old valve and replaced with a new one. This procedure comes with a 5-day hospital stay and a lengthy recovery time to regain strength and energy.

TAVR achieves the same objective in replacing the malfunctioning valve, but is a lot more efficient. MacDonald said the TAVR procedure repairs the valve without removing the old, damaged valve. Instead, a replacement is wedged into the aortic valve’s place. The procedure is done through a small incision through the femoral artery in the groin or thigh.

“There is no need to cut open the chest with TAVR,” MacDonald said. “There is not even anesthesia. A patient who has the TAVR procedure goes home with a band aid on the thigh. This procedure is extremely successful in older patients. This technology is a superior approach to treating something so serious.”

MacDonald said South Denver Cardiology has been conducting the TAVR procedure for about 4 years. Coming upon the 4-year anniversary for the very first patient to do the TAVR procedure at the center, MacDonald said it’s rewarding to see the patient’s progress.

“When a patient needs the TAVR procedure, they are very sick,” MacDonald said. “It’s so exciting to see the quality of life improve and see them living such happy, fulfilling lives. We are not only saving the lives of these patients, but we are dramatically improving the quality of life for every patient.”

MacDonald said South Denver Cardiology remains one of the leading centers in the state in providing innovative care and procedures to patients such as TAVR.

“We use the newest valves and we are a comprehensive center with an experienced valve team,” MacDonald said. “I’m proud that our heart team takes these patients, arranges tests and procedures and truly manages the comprehensive, personalized care all of our patients need.”

Learn more about South Denver Cardiology Associates and the South Denver Heart Center by visiting the website at https://www.southdenver.com/. Likes us on Facebook and Subscribe to us on YouTube.


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