TAVR: A New Heart Valve Offers Joy in Golden Years

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At the age of 90, Roy “Bud” Smith still had a lot of living to do. But Bud was at a crossroads with his health. With a failing heart valve from aortic stenosis, he needed open-heart surgery. Between his age and the possibility of a difficult recovery, open-heart surgery wasn’t an option. Without intervention, Bud likely only had months left to live.

Aging can cause aortic stenosis, which is a stiffening and narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve. This makes your heart work harder and limits blood flow to your brain and other parts of your body, causing symptoms like shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, fainting and fatigue.

The specialists at St. Elizabeth Heart & Vascular Institute Valve Center suggested a minimally invasive surgery called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). Bud and his family met with St. Elizabeth cardiologist Dr. Saeb Khoury and cardiac surgeon Dr. Victor Schmelzerto discuss the pros and cons of the procedure. They quickly saw that TAVR was a golden opportunity for Bud to regain his health.

“There was no hesitation whatsoever to have this procedure,” says Jerry Lindle, Bud’s nephew and caregiver. “The option of TAVR came along at just the right time.”

What Is TAVR?

TAVR is a minimally invasive surgery that uses a catheter (small tube) inserted in your groin artery to access your heart. The catheter is used to precisely place a new artificial heart valve inside the malfunctioning valve. Because the procedure is minimally invasive, TAVR patients experience a shorter and more comfortable recovery than open-heart surgery patients.

TAVR Can Offer Immediate Health Improvement

The recovery time for TAVR is much shorter than for open-heart surgery. Patients like Bud can go home within a few days and regain their full strength within weeks.

In December of 2014, Bud became the third patient to undergo TAVR at St. Elizabeth. The improvement in his health was immediate.

“Uncle Bud’s coloring was much better right away, and he had much more energy,” says Jerry. “He was more stable on his feet and could walk without feeling dizzy.”

Since 2014, more than 300 patients facing life-threatening heart valve failures have had TAVR procedures at the Heart & Vascular Institute Valve Center. The program has excellent outcomes compared to national quality benchmarks, and patients report significant improvements in quality of life.

These days Bud enjoys daily walks, jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles and birdwatching. He’s living life to the fullest, thanks to St. Elizabeth’s TAVR procedure and cardiac experts like Dr. Khoury and Dr. Schmelzer.

“I get great satisfaction from seeing Bud walking and enjoying his life without limitations at almost 97 years old,” says Dr. Khoury. “TAVR really changed his quality of life.”

TAVR at St. Elizabeth Healthcare

The St. Elizabeth Heart & Vascular Institute is proud to offer the Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana community comprehensive heart and vascular services. Our dedicated staff members, coordinators, nurses, physicians and surgeons all work together toward the same goal: a successful outcome.

For more information about heart valve procedures like TAVR, please visit stelizabeth.com/valvecenter or call (859) 301-TAVR (8287).