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Aortic Stenosis and the TAVR Procedure, What You Should Know from Interventional Cardiologist, Lance I. Kovar MD, FACC

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Patients with narrowing of the aortic valve of their heart used to need open heart surgery and for many, the procedure was considered high risk. In April 2002 the first minimally invasive trans-catheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, procedure was done, creating a new way for doctors to replace the aortic valve without opening up the patient’s chest.  Learn about aortic stenosis and all about the TAVR procedure from Interventional Cardiologist, Lance I. Kovar MD, FACC.   

What is aortic stenosis?

The aortic valve works as a one way valve that controls blood flow out of the heart and to the rest of the body, except to the lungs. The valve has leaflets which open when the heart pumps and closes when the heart relaxes. The aortic valve allows blood to be pumped from the heart into the aorta and prevents blood from flowing backwards into the heart. Aortic stenosis is the most commonly diagnosed valvular heart disease that prevents the aortic valve leaflets from opening and closing properly. This makes the heart work harder to pump blood to the rest of your body.

What are the symptoms of aortic stenosis?

A diseased valve affects your health and limits your daily activities. Aortic stenosis can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and dizziness. Untreated patients with aortic stenosis have a shortened life expectancy. Treatment of aortic stenosis improves symptoms and extends life expectancy.

What treatments are available?

Aortic stenosis is a mechanical problem with the valve that cannot be corrected or improved by medicine. The only way to fix aortic stenosis is by replacing the valve.

Prior to 2011, the aortic valve could only be replaced by open heart surgery. TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement), a less invasive approach to replacing the valve, was initially approved in 2011 because initial studies proved that TAVR was a better option than surgical aortic valve replacement or no treatment at all for patients who are high risk or inoperable. Further studies have proven that TAVR is a better option for healthier, intermediate risk patients.

 Two pivotal studies in March 2019 showed that TAVR is the best option for low risk patients as well.

How is TAVR performed?

The most common way to perform TAVR is via the femoral artery, a large blood vessel which brings blood to the leg. Through a needle stick, a hollow tube is placed in the femoral artery and the new valve is passed to the heart through the tube, then placed in the diseased valve and expanded, crushing the diseased valve aside. The new valve works immediately. Patients often feel better immediately and are discharged from the hospital the following day.

TAVR is an innovative and minimally invasive way to treat narrowing of the aortic valve. Crystal Run Healthcare Interventional Cardiologist Lance I. Kovar, MD is performing this procedure right here in the Hudson Valley to offer members of the community who are serve suffering from severe aortic stenosis an alternative to open heart surgery.  To learn more about TAVR, visit the American Heart Association’s website. If you think you may be a candidate for TAVR, speak with your Cardiologist today! 

 

Lance I. Kovar MD, FACC, earned his Medical Degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, NJ, and completed his internal medicine residency at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center He went on to a fellowship in cardiology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center and followed by a fellowship in interventional cardiology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center..  Dr. Kovar is Board Certified in Cardiovascular Disease and Interventional Cardiology and sees patients in Crystal Run Healthcare’s West Nyack facility.