At UP Health System – Marquette, TAVR is another option to repair heart valves

Dr. Kris Dosh

MARQUETTE — For those with cardiovascular problems who are deemed too weak or frail for open heart surgery, UP Health System — Marquette has an alternative solution: the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement procedure. 

TAVR is a minimally invasive surgery that repairs the heart valve without removing the original, damaged valve. It calls for wedging a replacement valve in the aortic valve’s place. Similar to a stent, the TAVR procedure delivers the replacement valve to the valve site through a catheter. 

“People who have severe aortic stenosis have symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath or dizziness with exertion,” said Dr. Kris Dosh of UP Health System — Marquette. “Those symptoms almost always get better with the valve replacement … There is also a survival benefit.”

The original trials for TAVR were designed to look at people who weren’t candidates for surgical valves and to see if there was a safer alternative. The first large study showed that patients did better with the nonsurgical TAVR valve than traditional open-heart surgery. 

For a while, the patient subset for TAVR was limited to high-risk patients, but since then, more studies have been designed and published and show that patients who are generally considered intermediate-risk for major cardiovascular events for a surgical valve did just as well with TAVR. 

WakeMed photo

“The two primary valves, Medtronic valve and Edwards Sapien valve, both did well with intermediate-risk patients,” Dr. Kosh said. “Right now, the valve is particularly useful for people who are too high-risk for open-heart surgery but also seems to work well for intermediate-risk patients.”

The UPHS – Marquette Heart and Vascular Center TAVR physician team consists of interventional cardiologists Dr. Dosh and Dr. David Pesola, and open-heart surgeon Dr. Brad Blakeman. At UPHS – Marquette, to maximize safety and surgical expertise the procedure is always performed using a team comprised of two interventional cardiologists and an open-heart surgeon. In addition to specialized training for physicians, UPHS’ support staff underwent in-depth training prior to TAVR being introduced at the UP’s regional medical center.

“If you look at the general course of aortic stenosis, if you don’t do anything at all, prognosis over 1-2 years is really, really poor,” Dr. Dosh said. “If people decide not to do anything, there’s a slim chance they will be alive after a couple years once they have symptoms and have a really severely narrowed aortic valve. 

“Once they get the TAVR procedure, they generally live longer, overall energy levels are usually better. They breathe better, have less chest pain.”

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For more information about TAVR, call 906-225-3870, or click here visit the UP Health System — Marquette heart and vascular website.

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