Lifesaving procedure for severe aortic stenosis.
Naperville Sun HealthAware column:
TAVR corrects severe aortic stenosis
August 27, 2012
After his experiences in World War II, not much impresses or bothers Anthony “Duff” Hufnagel. So, the former tank commander, Battle of the Bulge veteran and prisoner of war wasn’t fazed before or after undergoing Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR).
The new, lifesaving procedure at Edward Hospital corrects a condition called severe aortic stenosis.
“I’ve been too close to dying too many times to be nervous,” says Hufnagel, a 93-year-old resident of Glen Ellyn.
Severe aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve that causes a decrease in blood flow. The heart must work harder to push blood through the aortic valve, weakening the heart’s muscles and increasing the chances for heart failure. Patients are limited in their ability to do normal daily activities like walking or climbing stairs. Without treatment, studies show 50 percent of those with the condition will die within two years.
“If I sat still, I was fine,” Hufnagel recalls. “But, it was getting harder to breathe the last six months or so.”
“He couldn’t walk 10 steps without puffing,” says Belle, his wife of 61 years.
Ideally, severe aortic stenosis would be treated with an open-heart procedure in which the damaged valve is removed and replaced with a prosthetic one. However, cardiac surgeons determine they can’t operate on some patients because they’re too old or too sick to survive the rigors of surgery.
That was the case with Hufnagel, who was given six months to live after the diagnosis of severe aortic stenosis in May. The next step was an appointment with the multidisciplinary heart team at the Edward Hospital Valve Clinic, where he learned of the TAVR procedure.
With TAVR, an interventional cardiologist inserts a catheter (about the diameter of a pencil), which holds the collapsed replacement valve, into the femoral artery of the upper thigh, directs it through the torso, into the patient’s heart and to the location of the diseased valve.
The new prosthetic aortic valve is expanded with a balloon and begins to work immediately, creating increased blood flow.
The Food and Drug Administration approved TAVR in November. Edward is the only hospital in Chicago’s west and southwest suburbs performing the procedure, and one of only seven hospitals in Illinois allowed to do it.
Before the procedure, Hufnagel and his wife previously had scheduled a two-week vacation to Italy and Sicily they were determined to enjoy, which they did. The challenging walks of the steep terrain during the trip also confirmed for Hufnagel that TAVR was necessary.
“It was rough. When I got back from Italy, I was ready to get something done,” says Hufnagel, who had the TAVR procedure June 28 and went home six days later July 3.
“The breathing was bad before,” Hufnagel recalls. “It’s better now.”
The procedure was performed by a 22-person team that included Dr. Bryan Foy, medical director of cardiac surgery at Edward Heart Hospital and cardiothoracic surgeon with Cardiac Surgery Associates; Dr. Mark Goodwin, medical director of Edward’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab and interventional cardiologist with Midwest Heart-Advocate Medical Group; Dr. Peter Kerwin, cardiologist with Midwest Heart-Advocate Medical Group; Dr. Frank Lutrin, cardiothoracic surgeon with Cardiac Surgery Associates; and nurse Suzanne Wallace, TAVR coordinator, Edward Hospital.
“This is an exciting breakthrough in the treatment of severe cases of aortic stenosis,” Foy says. “These are patients who have no other options and would likely die without this less invasive procedure.”
Call the Edward Hospital Valve Clinic at 630-416-7796.
Naperville, Illinois (IL) - Edward Hospital and Health Services