TAVR heart procedure improves one man’s quality of life

TAVR heart procedure improves one man’s quality of life

“I know my doctors are as pleased with the results as I am. Now I’m living life as regularly as an 81 year old man can.”

These are the words of Charles Butts when asked about how he is doing since undergoing transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) three years ago.

For patients who are considered “higher risk” candidates for open heart valve surgery, this less invasive procedure allows doctors to insert a new artificial aortic heart valve via a catheter through a small incision in the groin or chest wall.

“The team felt Charles was a good candidate due to the progressive symptoms he was having from his heart valve disease. He had noticed a significant decrease in his quality of life compared to what he wanted, as he was now having shortness of breath with just minimal activity,” says Dr. Ravi Ramana, a cardiologist at the Advocate Heart Institute at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “Based on his advanced age, renal disease and health history, we believed he was too high of a risk for a standard open heart reoperation.”

Prior to this procedure, Butts survived a stroke and quadruple bypass surgery.

The most common symptoms of valvular heart disease include shortness of breath, weakness upon exertion, rapid heartbeat, discomfort in the chest and fainting spells. Yet some patients do not experience any symptoms.

When physicians initially adopted TAVR at Christ Medical Center, few patients met the criteria to undergo the procedure. But as the technology advanced and doctors grew more comfortable with outcomes, more and more patients with symptomatic aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the aortic valve, became viable candidates. Currently, any patient with severe aortic stenosis who is considered too high of a risk for a standard open heart operation may qualify to undergo TAVR.

“A very important feature of this TAVR procedure is that it has shown not only to improve the length of peoples’ lives but also the quality of life,” says Dr. Ramana.

In September of 2014, Butts underwent his TAVR procedure with Drs. Ramana and Antone Tatooles, cardiovascular surgeon at the Advocate Heart Institute at Christ Medical Center. The procedure, which normally lasts between one and two hours, commonly requires a four to five day hospital stay.

“TAVR is a great addition to our ability to care for patients with valvular heart disease, and for the appropriate patient, we’ve seen outstanding results,” says Dr. Tatooles.

Butts was certainly an appropriate patient for the procedure; he responded so well that he was discharged the next day.

Now, he is back to living life to the fullest, taking part in activities he enjoys, such as singing.

Each year, the Advocate Heart Institute at Christ Medical Center has seen an increase in the number of successful TAVR cases– completing nearly 60 in 2015. Overall, the Institute’s physicians perform more than 5,000 cardiac procedures—more than any other hospital in Illinois.

Do you know your risk for heart disease? Take Advocate Heart Institute’s heart risk assessment here. If you are at high risk, see one of Advocate Heart Institute’s cardiologists within 24 hours.

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.