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Transforming Heart Surgery with TAVR

A new way to treat aortic stenosis
By DuPage Medical Group Cardiology

The human heart is a vital organ that is responsible for blood flow throughout the body. The heart contains four valves which act as one-way doors to maintain the forward flow of blood.  The fourth valve of the heart is the aortic valve. The aortic valve acts as a gateway between the heart and the aorta, which is the largest artery in the body. When the aortic valve narrows and cannot open fully, this creates  a condition known as aortic stenosis.

Aortic stenosis restricts the flow of blood into the aorta, and forces the heart to work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body. It can develop due to a variety of reasons including birth defects or calcification build-up. Left untreated, aortic stenosis will eventually cause the heart to weaken, and lead to death.

The treatment of aortic stenosis is based upon the severity of the disease. Mild or moderate aortic stenosis requires only careful observation. When aortic stenosis becomes severe and causes symptoms, aortic valve replacement should be considered.   

Traditionally, aortic valve replacement has been performed through SAVR (surgical aortic valve replacement). SAVR is an effective but invasive, open-heart procedure that carries a significant recovery time. Elderly patients or those with other complex medical conditions are more likely to have complications from SAVR.

A newer treatment is now available for medium-risk and high-risk patients with aortic stenosis: TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement). The TAVR procedure is specifically for individuals suffering from severe aortic stenosis who are at an increased risk for complications from SAVR. In fact, TAVR may be the only treatment option available in very high risk patients with aortic stenosis.

The TAVR procedure offers patients a significantly less invasive treatment option by utilizing a catheter to deliver a new valve through the femoral artery (a large artery located in the groin). TAVR eliminates the need for cutting into and opening the chest. This allows for a faster recovery time and less pain. On average the procedure only requires a hospital stay of 1-3 days. It is also less likely to have complications in medium and high risk patients.

Candidates who qualify for the TAVR procedure are elderly (typically greater than 80 years old) or have other medical conditions that make open heart surgery (SAVR) more risky. TAVR has been proven to be an effective treatment option for patients who would otherwise have had limited choices to treat their aortic stenosis.

To determine whether a patient is a candidate for TAVR, a structural heart team will carefully evaluate the patient. The team consists of an interventional cardiologist, cardiac surgeon, cardiac imaging specialist and TAVR coordinator. The team will examine the patient, order tests to determine the severity of the aortic stenosis and determine the safest strategy for treating it. The structural heart team of DuPage Medical Group Cardiology has been successfully performing TAVR since 2013.

To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a DMG Cardiologist to evaluate your heart health, visit



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