Vanda Langham Find a Location Find a Doctor Heart & Vascular Arrhythmia Center Diagnostic Testing Treatments/Procedures Cardiology Minimally Invasive Procedures Heart Attack Care Clinical Research Diagnostic Services Heart Surgery Other Services Cardiac Rehab Heart Failure Center Patient Success Stories Prevention & Wellness AHA Training Center CardioVascular Mobile Health Unit Hands-only CPR Healing Hearts Women's Support Group Heart Healthy Lifestyle Tips My Heart Rocks Take Time For Your Heart Women and Heart Disease Tobacco Cessation Freshstart Tobacco Cessation E-cigarette Education Success Stories Tobacco Cessation Resources Valve Center Treatments Your Hospital Stay Care After Heart Surgery Intensive Care for Heart Conditions Nurses with Heart Care Expertise Partners in Heart Care Transitional Care Units Woman gets new heart valve without open heart surgery Journey started with a rude awakening Vanda Langham will never forget the night she woke up to a very mysterious sensation – her left arm was throbbing. “It was my elbow. I kept moving it around, trying to shake the pain, but it didn’t help,” remembers Vanda. “I didn’t know what to do.” She took an aspirin and dozed off, with the TV still on. Later, the throbbing in her elbow awakened her again, so she called a close friend, and they headed to the emergency department at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. “It was scary at first. They did lots of tests,” says Vanda. “I was afraid it was my heart.” At 82 years old, Vanda still had a lot of living to do. She was excited about an upcoming bus trip to Washington, D.C. with her church – First Baptist Elsmere – where she’s been a member for 50 years. Vanda loves her friends and family, and they love her, especially the children. “Miss Vanda” often brings a goody bag to church services, and it’s filled with crayons and books to keep the little ones occupied. On hot summer days, she’s been known to hand out icy-cold popsicles to children in the neighborhood. And, of course, she looks forward to visits from her grown son, an out-of-town minister, and his wife. A big heart and a big problem But, as it turns out, the woman with such a big, generous heart had a big problem with her physical heart. To learn the extent of Vanda’s problem, Dr. Darryl Dias, a cardiologist with St. Elizabeth Heart and Vascular Institute, performed an angiogram, a procedure that allows doctors to look at the heart arteries through X-ray images. The angiogram revealed that Vanda had mild and moderate blockages, plus severe aortic stenosis. “Vanda’s aortic valve was very heavily calcified and narrowed,” explains Dr. Dias. “It was bad and needed to be replaced.” The aortic valve is extremely important. The main pumping chamber of the heart, the left ventricle, pumps blood through the aortic valve into the aorta. The aorta takes blood to your whole body. And when the aortic valve narrows, the blood flow to your whole body decreases and causes patients to have many symptoms, including: Chest pain Shortness of breath Dizziness Passing out The best solution for Vanda Vanda needed a new valve, but traditional open heart surgery was too risky. “I was afraid,” remembers Vanda. “I’m not a young lady, and I didn’t know if I could take it.” “She was not a good candidate for surgery,” says Dr. Dias. “She had two strokes years ago, and she also has kidney problems.” So Dr. Dias referred her to the St. Elizabeth Valve Center, where she was evaluated by Dr. Saeb Khoury (an interventional cardiologist) and Dr. Victor Schmelzer and Dr. George Christensen (both cardiothoracic surgeons). Doctors treated Vanda with TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement), a minimally invasive procedure that allowed them to give Vanda a new aortic valve through a catheter, instead of open heart surgery. Relief and the royal treatment Vanda was relieved that doctors at St. Elizabeth could replace her aortic valve without open heart surgery, and she was thrilled with her care. “They treated me like I was royalty,” says Vanda. “Each nurse and doctor was so nice and friendly.” As it turns out, Vanda was the first patient in St. Elizabeth’s new cardiac intensive care unit. “They hung a sign on my door that said, ‘Welcome to Vanda’s room,’” remembers Vanda. “They took good care of me and treated me with respect.” Less than two months after surgery, Vanda made the trip to Washington D.C. with her friends from church – and with the help of a walker with a seat. Now Vanda goes to cardiac rehab twice a week to stay as strong as she can. She says she’s living proof of the great care people receive at St. Elizabeth. “I highly recommend that you go to St. Elizabeth,” says Vanda. “My prayers were answered there, and I’m very grateful.” Learn More About TAVR TAVR is a treatment for patients with severe aortic stenosis who are not candidates for traditional valve surgery. It offers an option for patients who otherwise would have limited life expectancies without treatment. For more information about treatment options for heart valve problems, including the TAVR procedure, call the St. Elizabeth Heart & Vascular Institute Valve Center at (859) 301-8287 (TAVR).