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New Procedure for Aortic Valve Replacement Introduced at Wheeling Hospital

September 27, 2017

WHEELING – The Wheeling Hospital Heart and Vascular Center is the first in the Upper Ohio Valley region to perform a new, less invasive, procedure to replace aortic valves.

Until the new transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure, valve replacement required open-heart surgery, in which the breast bone was cut to expose the heart. Open-heart surgery can be very painful with a long recovery time. With TAVR, there is little discomfort, no stiches and the patient is home in several days.

With TAVR, a new valve is compressed and placed on the end of a tube-like device called a balloon catheter. It is inserted through the femoral artery in the leg and pushed through the blood vessels until it reaches the diseased aortic valve. The valve is then expanded by the balloon and it anchors to the diseased valve.

The balloon is then deflated and removed. Once the new valve is in place, it opens and closes properly, allowing the blood to flow in the correct direction.

“The SAPIEN 3 TAVR can help correct the blood flow problem associated with aortic stenosis in patients who need surgery to replace the diseased valve, but are considered to be at intermediate or greater risk for complications associated with an open-heart procedure,” said interventional cardiologist D. Triston Smith.

The TAVR procedure is used in patients with aortic stenosis, or whose own aortic valve is diseased due to calcium buildup, which causes the valve to narrow. Aortic stenosis, a progressive disease, can be caused by a birth defect, rheumatic fever, radiation therapy, or it can be age-related. It is estimated that approximately 2.5 million people, or 12.4 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 75 suffer from aortic stenosis.

In elderly patients, aortic stenosis is sometimes caused by the calcium buildup on the aortic valve’s leaflets. Over time, the leaflets become stiff, reducing their ability to fully open and close. When that happens, a person’s heart must work harder to push blood through the aortic valve to the rest of the body. Eventually, the heart gets weaker, increasing the risk of heart failure.

Symptoms of aortic stenosis include:
• Chest pain.
• Fatigue.
• Shortness of breath.
• Lightheadedness, feeling dizzy and/or fainting.
• Difficulty when exercising.

Major risk factors associated with aortic valve disease include increasing age, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.

Severe aortic disease is life threatening and treatment for the condition is critical. Without aortic valve replace, patients with severe aortic stenosis have a survival rate as low as 50 percent at two years after the onset of symptoms, and 20 percent at five years.

“We are the region’s leader in providing area residents with the newest technological advancements. With TAVR, we have made the valve replacement process far less burdensome for our patients and easier for our medical personnel,” said Wheeling Hospital CEO Ron Violi. “Several departments work very closely together to provide this service and we are proud of their accomplishments.”

The multi-disciplinary Structural Heart Team approach at the Wheeling Hospital Heart and Vascular Center is a critical component in ensuring optimal patient outcomes in TAVR. The partnership between the interventional cardiologist and the cardiothoracic surgeon establishes the core of the TAVR Heart Team. The team also includes imaging specialists, anesthesiologists, operating room or cardiac cath lab staff, and other key members.

Smith serves as clinical director for the hospital’s Heart and Vascular Center's Structural Heart Team, which includes interventional cardiologists Dr. Gregory Suero and Dr. Deepak Hooda. It also includes anesthesiologist Dr. Kenneth Nanners, as well as cardiovascular surgeons Dr. Victor Maevsky and Dr. David Haybron, and radiologist Dr. Vincent Caruso. The cardiac coordinator is Crystal Pietranton, NP.

Every Heart Team qualified to offer the SAPIEN valve system must first complete a specialized training program.

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Contact: Gregg Warren – Vice President, Marketing/Public Relations, 304-243-3260

Wheeling Hospital doctors, nurses and support staff are shown performing the region's first transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedure.