When the aortic valve in your heart doesn't work properly, opening and closing to send oxygenated blood to the body, you may experience a number of symptoms. They include shortness of breath, chest pain, swollen feet or passing out and may become more frequent and severe over time. When they do, it's time to see your doctor.
Your aortic valve operates between the left ventricle and the aorta. When the valve is working properly, it closes off the lower part of the chamber containing the oxygen-rich blood before it's pushed out to the body. When the valve opens again, it allows blood to leave the heart.
A healthy aortic valve opens all the way, like a door, so that the right amount of blood can pass through. It also closes tightly so no blood leaks back into the chamber.
If your cardiologist has determined that the cause of your heart problem is a faulty aortic valve, you may need a replacement.
Because medicine can't fix an aortic valve, open-heart surgery used to be the only solution. Because it's an invasive procedure, it's often not an option for older patients. Since 2011, however, HonorHealth patients — including those in their 80s and 90s — have had a less invasive option.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) enables a team of specialists to make a small incision at the top of the leg or the chest wall to thread a catheter to the heart. The catheter carries a bioprosthetic valve — usually from a cow. The interventional cardiologist carefully positions it in the left chamber of the heart, replacing the original valve.
Because it's less invasive, the transcatheter valve replacement procedure is an alternative for older people who previously had no options. Hospital stays are shorter with this procedure, averaging two days.
As leaders in using the procedure, HonorHealth heart doctors have access to the latest generation of devices and scientific studies. HonorHealth experts' experience with this procedure have meant better outcomes for patients, not only prolonging lives but also helping patients feel better.