Mar 132013

Camden, New Jersey (PRWEB) March 13, 2013

The nationally recognized multidisciplinary cardiac team at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center is now performing transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) for patients with severe, symptomatic aortic valve stenosis who are inoperable or at high risk to undergo surgical aortic valve replacement (open-heart surgery). Lourdes is only the second hospital in southern New Jersey performing TAVR procedures commercially.

The TAVR procedure enables the placement of an expandable Edwards SAPIEN aortic heart valve, the only FDA-approved TAVR therapy in the U.S., into the body via a catheter inserted through the groin artery and delivered to the heart, similar to a cardiac catheterization procedure.

For patients with inaccessible leg artery access, a transapical procedure in which a small chest incision is made under the breast is an alternative option. In both cases, the device is inserted inside the existing valve, allowing the patient to have a new, fully functioning aortic valve.

With TAVR, we both significantly improve the quality and the length of life of patients as compared with optimal medical therapy. This procedure may be the only option available for those patients who are unable to tolerate open surgery, including the elderly and frail patients, as well as those with multiple medical conditions, said Lourdes interventional cardiologist Steven Kernis, MD, FACC, FSCAI, who was trained in performing TAVR procedures in Germany, the country with the most extensive TAVR experience in the world.

The advanced procedure is performed without stopping the patients heart or the need for cardiopulmonary bypass, and patients are typically discharged home in 48 hours.

An estimated 1.5 million Americans suffer from aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the hearts aortic valve that limits blood flow to the rest of the body. The heart must work much harder to deliver adequate blood to the body, which may lead to weakening of the heart, heart failure and eventually death. About 250,000 (predominantly elderly) patients currently have severe aortic stenosis.

Without surgery, the majority of patients with severe stenosis will not survive more than an average of two years after the onset of symptoms, making this condition comparably deadly to many cancers. TAVR has shown superior results in one- and two-year survival compared to medical therapy and comparable to open-heart aortic valve replacement.

According to the ACC/AHA Guidelines for the Management of Patients With Valvular Heart Disease, surgical aortic valve replacement (AVR) is indicated in virtually all symptomatic patients with severe aortic stenosis in the absence of serious comorbid conditions.

Unfortunately, dramatic signs and symptoms including chest pain, shortness of breath and passing out, are less frequently manifested, said Dr. Kernis. The more common symptoms of aortic stenosis such as fatigue, activity intolerance and lightheadedness are routinely attributed to aging and being out of shape. Since one of the most feared and dramatic presentations can be sudden cardiac death, it is important that this condition is discovered early in its course.

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