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Article originally published Spring 2021 in The Clinical Connection publication.

FMC’s Structural Heart Program celebrates one-year anniversary of TAVR

Aortic stenosis is one of the most common – and most serious – forms of structural heart disease. With an increasing prevalence among the aging population, Fairfield Medical Center offers high quality, lifesaving care to patients in southeastern Ohio – without the travel to large city centers.

In 2019, this lifesaving care was expanded to include transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), which allows patients in the counties of Fairfield, Hocking, Athens and beyond to receive comprehensive heart care in a convenient location.

“TAVR patients have extensive workups and follow-up visits which, for many patients in our rural market, is a hardship,” said cardiologist John Lazarus, MD, PhD. “In fact, some patients opted to forgo lifesaving treatment because they simply did not want to go to Columbus. Now they can have that treatment right here at FMC.”

In addition to the geographical benefits, FMC offers a truly personalized experience with cardiac specialists remaining directly involved in patient care from diagnosis to recovery. According to Dr. Lazarus, this hands-on approach, coupled with clinical safety measures, has resulted in life-changing patient outcomes. Among those clinical safety measures is the incorporation of Sentinel® Cerebral Protection System and an exceptional imaging protocol for precision, as well as the use of physician anesthesiologists for direct care in all TAVR procedures, which are done as a conscious sedation in more than 90% of cases.

“This avoids the effects of general anesthesia, and patients maintain their natural physiological reflexes, breathe on their own and have a shorter length of stay – typically next-day discharge,” Dr. Lazarus said. The expedited recovery associated with TAVR has stood out most to cardiothoracic surgeon P. Aryeh Cohen, MD.

“The recovery time compared to surgery has been remarkable, even for elderly patients,” Dr. Cohen shared, which was certainly true of FMC’s first TAVR patient, 86-year-old Bob Jones. Because of his age, Jones was not an ideal candidate for open heart surgery. Experiencing severe shortness of breath and heart failure as a result of aortic stenosis, he was quickly approved for TAVR. On Nov. 20, 2019, he became FMC’s premiere TAVR patient – a decision he didn’t doubt for a second.

“I have a lot of faith in these doctors – every single one of them – and I would recommend their care to anyone that needs it,” he said. “I knew I could have gone somewhere else, but I didn’t want to. I wanted to be here at FMC, where they’ve always taken great care of me.”

Cardiologist Jason Weingart, MD, said bringing the TAVR technology to FMC has been a “game-changer” for the region and being able to participate in the program has been a true honor. “We aren’t just treating aortic stenosis patients here, we are treating grandfathers and grandmothers, brothers and sisters, moms and
dads – we are giving these folks more time to spend with their families and we are improving their quality of life in the process.”

To read more about Bob’s story, see the link below.

Robert Jones FMC TAVR patient
State-of-the-Heart Technology

Robert “Bob” Jones recently became the first patient at Fairfield Medical Center to be treated with the TAVR procedure, an innovative alternative to open-heart surgery.

  • Heart & Vascular Care

    The heart must be steady. It must be sure, dependable, constant. These measures of a healthy heart also serve as the foundation of the commitment made to those who serve our heart patients at Fairfield Medical Center: we’re here for you when you need us most.