Video (above): Ray Tollefson, 89, shares about his WW II D-Day experience and how his present-day Transcutaneous Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) allowed him to attend his remaining reunions at Normandy after struggling with aortic stenosis.
Non-Surgical Heart Valve Replacement Options for Aortic Stenosis
As many as 300,000 people in the United States are diagnosed each year with severe aortic stenosis, a condition in which the aortic valve does not open fully, decreasing blood flow from the heart to the body. Severe aortic stenosis is often unpreventable and may be related to age, a buildup of calcium deposits which causes narrowing, radiation therapy, medications, or a history of rheumatic fever or high cholesterol. Without aortic valve replacement, 50 percent of patients will not survive more than an average of two years after symptoms begin. Although open-heart surgery is the treatment of choice for aortic stenosis, offering significant and lasting effect, about one-third of patients with this disease are not candidates for the surgery and stand to benefit from other, less invasive heart valve replacement options, such as the non-surgical options outlined below.
More Options, More Experience in Aortic Valve Replacement
We have performed over 300 aortic valve implants (the most in Michigan) and are among the top programs in the country in terms of our heart valve experience. The University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center was the first hospital in the state of Michigan to offer both the Edwards Heart Valve and the Medtronic CoreValve® for patients who have limited surgical alternatives. (Both of these options are known as TAVI or TAVR treatments, which stand for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation and Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement.) In addition, we are now one of the first heart centers in the United States to enroll patients in a new trial called the Medtronic CoreValve SURTAVI trial, for aortic stenosis patients who are at intermediate risk to undergo open-heart surgery. And we are also looking to the future--there are new valve technologies on the horizon we expect to be able to offer when they become available.
Each year, University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center doctors perform over 600 surgical valve procedures – more than any other hospital in the state of Michigan. Our scientists and physicians have participated in more than 700 cardiovascular clinical trials in the past five years. We have used this experience to build a comprehensive program for treating all aspects of aortic disease, and offering the Edwards Valve and CoreValve® trials adds to our treatment options for people with severe aortic stenosis, giving them a chance for a better quality of life.
Nurse Practitioners Provide Individualized Care
Our nurse practitioners (NPs) and nurse clinical care coordinator provide the first point of contact for patients with aortic stenosis who are referred to the transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) program. The NPs help evaluate patients and work with the TAVR program physicians to create an individualized plan of care. The evaluation for TAVR can be complex, and depending on patient anatomy, risk level and other factors, there might be several available options, which often raises many questions for patients and their families. The TAVR NPs are there to answer questions and help patients and families be an active part of their care team throughout the entire TAVR process from the initial evaluation through recovery period.
Make an Appointment
To make an appointment to discuss whether you are a candidate for a heart valve replacement, call the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center at 888-287-1082 or email us at CVCCallCtr@med.umich.edu.