The Open-Heart Surgery Alternative: Hartford Hospital Doctors Perform 1,000th TAVR

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On Jan. 14, the Heart & Vascular Institute‘s structural heart team at Hartford Hospital completed its 1,000th Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement procedure.

TAVR is designed to treat aortic valve disease, a common condition that develops as people get older. With aortic valve disease, “the heart is pumping blood through a pinhole,” says Dr. Francis Kiernan, co-director of the Heart & Vascular Institute’s Structural Heart Disease Program. “That puts significant strain on the heart muscle.”

The TAVR procedure was originally developed to help patients with significant risk of complications by inserting a stent that pushes the old valve out of the way and puts a new valve in its place. Since that time, Hartford Hospital physicians have served as principle investigators in several national trials documenting the safety and efficacy of TAVR, leading to the FDA’s approval for the procedure in extreme-risk, high-risk and intermediate-risk patients.

Dr. Robert Hagberg, chief of cardiac surgery at Hartford Hospital, said the popularity of TAVR is growing because patients often tolerate it better than open-heart surgery and face a faster recovery.

“It’s actually competing with standard surgical aortic valve replacement now because TAVR is becoming mainstream,” Hagberg said.

Hartford Hospital was recently selected as one of 35 hospitals nationwide participating in a study that allows low-risk patients with severe aortic stenosis to receive TAVR.

“For participation in the registry,” says Dr. Ray McKay, co-director of the Structural Heart Program, “patients with severe aortic stenosis who are at low operative risk will be evaluated and approved for enrollment by a national screening committee. Patients will be seen in follow-up at 30 days and yearly for a total of 10 years.”

Hartford Hospital, the biggest TAVR program in the state and one of the biggest in the region, was the only New England hospital accepted for the study.

For more information about the TAVR program at the Heart & Vascular Institute at Hartford Hospital, click here.


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