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Article originally published Spring 2020 in The Monitor magazine.

A new, minimally invasive treatment option for patients living with a common form of valvular heart disease is now being offered at Fairfield Medical Center as an alternative to open-heart surgery.

This innovative procedure, known as TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement), is used to treat patients with severe aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the aortic valve opening that can cause chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath, dizziness, fatigue and swelling of the feet, legs or abdomen. Without treatment, the condition often leads to a significantly decreased quality of life and life-threatening complications.

During the TAVR procedure, which can be performed under general anesthesia or conscious sedation, an interventional cardiologist guides a catheter to the heart through a small incision in the patient’s thigh. The physician then places an artificial valve within the diseased heart valve, improving blood flow and restoring function to the heart.

Dr. Jason Weingart, an interventional cardiologist with Fairfield Medical Center’s Structural Heart Program, said while open-heart surgery is still a viable and necessary option for treating patients with serious heart conditions, TAVR is a good alternative for patients whose conditions can be treated through less-invasive methods.

“Historically, this therapy was only available at large medical facilities, often in major cities – those days are over now. For the first time, our patients can receive this life-saving treatment right here in their own community, closer to home and closer to their family and friends,” Dr. Weingart explained.

Because the procedure does not require physicians to open the patient’s chest cavity in order to access the heart, TAVR is associated with shorter hospital stays and quicker recoveries compared to patients who undergo open-heart surgery.

“We aren’t just treating aortic stenosis patients here at FMC,” Dr. Weingart added. “We’re treating grandmothers and grandfathers, brothers and sisters, moms and dads, family and friends. We’re giving these folks more time to spend with their loved ones.”

If you or a loved one are concerned you may be suffering from structural heart disease, talk to your doctor about referral to the Structural Heart Program at Fairfield Medical Center, a specialty clinic for the evaluation of complex heart valve disorders.

For more information about TAVR and the Structural Heart Program, call 740-689-4480