Dr. Kovach: My name is Dr. Todd Kovach, and I'm a member of the Valve Clinic team at Morton Plant Hospital.
Dr. Barry: My name is Dr. Mike Barry. I'm one of the members of the Valve Clinic team at Morton Plant Hospital. Aortic stenosis is a common problem as people get older. In time, as we age, the aortic valve becomes thickened and stenotic, that is it doesn't open very well. As it fails to open, people develop symptoms such as shortness of breath with activity, perhaps chest pain, or even light-headedness. The only true remedy for aortic stenosis is a valve replacement or this new technology called TAVR.
Dr. Kovach: In patients with aortic stenosis, we have degrees of severity, mild to severe. Most patients once they develop severe aortic stenosis will start to develop symptoms of shortness of breath, particularly with exercise, chest discomfort, palpitations, and light-headedness. The aortic valve becomes severely stenotic. These patients, when they develop symptoms, will now become candidates for heart valve replacement. We can treat these patients medically with beta-blockers or diuretic nitrates. However, that's only treating the symptoms. To cure it, it's going to require a valve replacement.
Prior to the development of the transcatheter aortic valve replacement, we had a subset of patients who were not surgical candidates, and therefore those patients had to be treated medically. With the development of the transcatheter aortic valve replacement, we now have a new technology, a new procedure that we can offer to these patients.
Dr. Barry: The new TAVR procedure offers a new option for patients that were deemed non-surgical candidates. These are patients that are typically advanced in age, have had previous surgeries, or that are extremely frail and weak, wouldn't feel are able to tolerate an open procedure. So the TAVR is another tool in our armamentarium in order to offer a replacement of this valve without putting them through the risk of an open procedure that many of them just could not tolerate.
Dr. Kovach: In those patients who have been diagnosed with aortic stenosis, I would recommend they follow up with their primary care physician as well as their cardiologist. I would recommend a referral to the Morton Plant Valve Clinic, at which time they would be thoroughly screened and evaluated to see if they would be a candidate for this new technology.