You’ve been feeling short of breath or got a little lightheaded when you walked up the stairs the other day. That’s just a normal part of aging, right? But nonspecific symptoms like fatigue and dizziness could be a sign of a life-threatening disease called aortic stenosis, which affects approximately 12.4% of men and women aged 75 years or more.
Aortic stenosis develops when your aortic valve is compromised by birth defects, age, or disease. The aortic valve is one of four valves in your heart that pumps blood throughout your body to keep your tissues infused with life-giving oxygen.
Each heart valve features a set of tissue flaps, known as leaflets, that open and close to regulate the flow of blood and pump it through your arteries. When the leaflets on your aortic valve stiffen due to either age-related calcium buildups or scar tissue from disease or radiation, the valve can’t pump sufficient blood through your body anymore.
Stiff or malformed aortic leaflets may not cause any symptoms if your aortic stenosis is mild to moderate. In fact, you may have first learned of your condition during a regular annual exam, when your doctor identified a heart murmur.
Once you have symptoms, though, your disease has progressed to the point that you need immediate treatment. Symptoms that indicate you have severe aortic stenosis include:
Only three treatment options exist to correct severe aortic stenosis: open-heart surgery, balloon valvuloplasty (BAV), or TAVR. Of these, only open-heart surgery and TAVR are effective over the long term.
Dr. Syed W. Bokhari, an expert cardiologist, recommends TAVR for most of his severe aortic stenosis patients at Advanced Cardiovascular Care in Riverside, California. Here he shares the three most important reasons to choose TAVR to restore your blood flow to normal, healthy levels.
Open-heart surgery is a highly invasive procedure that requires your surgeon to make a large incision in your chest and saw through your breastbone to reach your heart. When you are elderly or have other health issues, open-heart surgery may not even be a possibility for you.
In contrast, TAVR is performed through a small incision in your leg (transfemoral) or chest. During VAVR, Dr. Bokhari Inserts a short, hollow guide tube called a sheath into your femoral or another artery.
Dr. Bokhari may first perform a preliminary BAV by threading a balloon catheter into your aortic valve under X-ray guidance. He inflates the balloon to open your damaged valve and push back the old, calcified leaflets.
Once the valve is open, he deflates and withdraws the balloon. Next, he clamps your new artificial heart valve onto a catheter and slips it through the sheath up toward your heart. When the catheter reaches the aortic valve, Dr. Bokhari inflates a balloon with fluid, expanding the new valve further, and then guides the valve into place.
After the new valve is in its ideal position, Dr. Bokhari deflates the balloon and removes the delivery catheter. The calcified leaflets of your diseased valve mesh with the frame of the artificial valve to secure it in place.
Your new TAVR-placed valve begins functioning immediately. Blood and oxygen are pumped throughout your entire body in a normal, healthy flow. Many women and men report an immediate improvement in their symptoms.
When you undergo valve replacement via open-heart surgery, you need to spend at least one night in the intensive care unit and at least three to seven days in a regular hospital room. Although each patient is different, many who undergo TAVR have a shorter hospital stay. Some need little to no home care and can return to their normal daily activities within days.
Unlike BAV alone, which simply opens your valve with a balloon but doesn’t actually replace the valve, TAVR doesn’t need to be redone every year. Your new artificial valve should last the rest of your life. And, if you do outlast your valve or if a previous valve you had from open-heart surgery needs to be replaced, Dr. Bokhari can easily do so with minimally invasive TAVR.
Not everyone’s a candidate for TAVR. Dr. Bokhari conducts a thorough medical examination and evaluates your history to determine if you’d benefit from this groundbreaking procedure or not.
If you’ve been diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis, or if you have mild-to-moderate aortic stenosis or a heart murmur and you’ve been experiencing symptoms, contact Advanced Cardiovascular Care immediately. You can call Dr. Bokhari’s friendly staff for a TVAR consultation and evaluation, or book your appointment using the convenient online form.