Aortic Stenosis (narrowing of the aortic valve opening) can become a serious problem for patients, especially the elderly. Our heart valves regulate the blood flow from our hearts to our bodies, and aortic stenosis reduces the amount of blood leaving the heart and increases the effort to pump it. The cause is most often age-related calcification, but birth defects, rheumatic fever, or radiation therapy may be responsible.
In its worst cases, aortic stenosis can be life threatening. Patients with severe aortic stenosis have a survival rate as low as 50% at two years after onset of symptoms and 20% at five years after onset of symptoms. Due to the reduced blood flow in patients, aortic stenosis has a definite impact on quality of life, limiting a patient’s exertion and activity.
The typical approach to aortic stenosis is open-heart surgery and valve replacement. The afflicted valve is removed and replaced with a mechanical valve or a tissue valve. This alternative requires a week to 10 days of hospital recovery and involves general anesthesia, a risky aspect for patients with some medical conditions.
TAVR (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement) is a non-invasive surgical procedure allowing a new valve to be inserted into the original diseased valve that offers a number of advantages for high-risk patients. TAVR can lead to a quicker alleviation of the symptoms related to aortic stenosis, and the overall recovery time is shorter than traditional valve replacement. Faster relief and recovery mean a faster resumption of the activities that make life enjoyable.
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