A New Approach to Treating Aortic Stenosis
Aortic stenosis is a cardiac condition where the aortic valve of the heart narrows and calcifies, preventing it from fully opening. This obstructs blood flow from the heart to other parts of the body and makes the heart work much harder. The condition occurs most often in elderly individuals – up to 10% of those over the age of 70 will develop it. Without surgical intervention, the heart of a patient suffering from aortic stenosis can fail.
The symptoms of aortic stenosis include shortness of breath with exertion and severe fatigue, because blood can’t pump to the body adequately. These are the most common symptoms. Other symptoms can include lightheadedness, fainting from lack of blood supply to the brain, and, in some cases, chest pain. Once a person develops symptoms for aortic stenosis, a poor prognosis is likely without a valve replacement.
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), FDA approved in November of 2011, is a minimally invasive procedure that is offered for patients who face higher risks in open-heart surgery. Unlike invasive open-heart procedures where bad valves are fully replaced, TAVR repairs the damaged valve by placing a new valve within the old valve. The new valve is inserted on a catheter, through a large femoral artery in the groin. A stent holds the valve insert in place, and the new valve starts working immediately.