TAVR: A New Surgery for At-Risk Cardiac Patients

Dr. Vaqar AliA cutting-edge, lifesaving heart procedure now offers hope to patients with a diseased aortic valve. We are excited to announce that Dr. Vaqar Ali, Vice President of First Coast Cardiovascular Institute, is part of a team of surgeons and cardiologists performing Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) surgery in Northeast Florida. The heart valves are thin membranes attached to the heart wall, and they open and close to regulate blood flow. As we age, these valves can get narrower due to calcium buildup or scarring. This narrowing is called aortic stenosis. When the narrowing begins to restrict blood flow, a patient may be a candidate for TAVR.

How is TAVR different from other treatment options?
For patients with mild aortic stenosis, medication can be prescribed to regulate the heart and manage symptoms. However, for more severe cases, valve replacement is the only option. Surgical aortic valve replacement (AVR) is an open-heart procedure where the chest is opened and the patient is put on cardiopulmonary bypass while the valve is replaced. TAVR is less invasive and allows a new valve to be inserted within the already-existing, diseased valve.

Who is TAVR recommended for?
At this time, the procedure is FDA-approved for patients with symptomatic aortic stenosis who are at high risk for standard open heart surgery. Most people who have this procedure are in their 70s or 80 and often have other medical conditions that make them a better candidate for this type of surgery.

What are the benefits for patients?
TAVR is a relatively new procedure, but it can be an effective option to improve the quality of life for patients who might otherwise have limited choices for aortic valve repair. Benefits include:

  • Avoid the risks of open-heart surgery
  • Shorter recovery time
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • More immediate results

What are the risks of TAVR?
Risks include the possibility of stroke and/or atrial fibrillation, so it’s important to talk to your doctor before considering any type of surgery.

I think TAVR might be right for me, or I have more questions. What should I do?
The five biggest factors to consider when determining if you are a possible candidate for TAVR include age, current health status, medical history, your fragility and condition of your heart. Each patient is unique, so speak to a qualified TAVR Heart Team about whether TAVR could be an option for you. You can find the TAVR center closest to you by visiting:

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