Your Top 5 Questions about TAVR Answered
February 23, 2023
Your heart is the muscle in charge of pumping blood to your entire body. This vital organ is made up of chambers, valves and blood vessels. Your heart valves work similarly to a one-way door: they open and close, controlling blood flow in the correct direction through the heart chambers.
For patients who have been diagnosed with a heart-related condition like aortic valve stenosis (narrowing), it is important to know treatment options. Most might think open-heart surgery is the only way to treat a heart valve, but many hospitals, including Renown, also offer a minimally invasive procedure called a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR).
Dr. Abhilash Akinapelli of Renown Institute for Heart & Vascular Health shares his answers to the top five TAVR questions:
1. What causes aortic valve stenosis?Aortic valve stenosis can be caused by a variety of factors. The main reasons being wear and tear of the valve due to aging; genetically abnormal heart valve (bicuspid aortic valve); long-standing high blood pressure; and other reasons like radiation exposure.
2. Am I a candidate for TAVR?
Renown’s heart care teams are made up of your primary care provider, cardiologist and cardio thoracic surgeon. They will evaluate if patients are a good candidate for the TAVR procedure by performing a variety of screenings and tests. Some of these include:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
- Chest X-ray
- Exercise tests or stress tests
- Cardiac computerized tomography (CT) scan
- Cardiac catheterization
3. What are the advantages of the TAVR procedure?
The Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure is much less invasive than open heart surgery, otherwise known as a Surgical Aortic Valve Replacement (SAVR). Patients can typically return to their normal lifestyles within a week after leaving the hospital.
During the TAVR procedure, a stent valve mounted on a balloon is advanced to the heart through the blood vessels in the groin without any incision. Once in position, the balloon will be inflated to firmly expand the new valve inside the diseased old valve, pushing it away to the sides. Once the new valve is in place, it begins working immediately and the deflated balloon is removed. The surgical procedure is approximately one hour long. Patients can get up and walk after four hours and will be discharged the following day if no complications arise. Compared to a SAVR, recovery time is much shorter and less risky for patients above the age of 75. A big advantage for anyone who fits under the criteria for a TAVR.
4. Is the procedure painful?
The TAVR procedure is not surgery, but you will still be asleep during the procedure. Since no incision is made, it is essentially a painless procedure. Patients may experience slight discomfort such as aches and pains at the entry site of the catheter.
5. Can I have an MRI and X-rays done after having a TAVR valve?
Yes, patients can have MRI scans and X-rays after TAVR.
For further questions and information about the TAVR procedure, please consult with your Renown heart care team at 775-982-2452 or through MyChart.