Health Matters: Heart Valve Replacement, No Surgery Required

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Baptist Health heart patients are opting for a fairly new procedure to replace a heart valve and it doesn't require surgery.

Dean James is one of the patients who's had his aortic valve replaced.

"I had problems with blood flow because my heart was slowly failing," he explains.

Going into open heart surgery in 2011, doctors found that Dean had a heart murmur and a valve that wasn't working properly.

Doctors told him about Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, also known as TAVR. It's minimally invasive.

"The TAVR is approved for patients with moderate risk for surgery which basically means a lot of patients that we weren't able to offer it to, now can get it," says Dr. Ernesto Ruiz-Rodriguez, Structural Interventional Cardiologist.

The doctor says there are multiple ways to do this procedure but it's common to insert the catheter through the groin.

"Through that catheter, insert that valve and put it up in the heart and deploy it," he continues.

This procedure has been done for years but offered at Baptist in the last year. So far, Dr. Ruiz-Rodriguez says it's producing incredible results.

"I never had any pain before, during or after so I'm lucky that way. I felt better the instant I woke up from the anesthesia," Dean says.

To put this into perspective, Dean was in the hospital less than 24 hours from start to finish.

"This one I was up and walking the next day," he adds.

It was a noticable difference and he recommends that other patients seriously consider the procedure.

When an open heart procedure is risky for some, that's where TAVR can help. Most people who have this procedure are in their 70s or 80s and often have other medical conditions that make them a better candidate for this.

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